The football season finally gets underway after seven months through the KFC Independence Cup from March 30, albeit without powerhouse Sheikh Jamal DC and promoted Arambagh KS.
The draw of the season's first tournament was held at the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) headquarters yesterday, with archrivals Mohammedan and Abahani being drawn in separate groups. Defending champions Mohammedan SC will take on the big-budget Chittagong Abahani in one of the two matches on the opening day at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
Sheikh Jamal and Arambagh -- who have been involved in the 'save the football' movement along with Mohammedan and former footballers -- did not ensure their participation till the last date, prompting the game's governing body to start the season without the two clubs.
"You had better ask the clubs who are not participating. We are holding the tournament with the teams who have responded. It is not mandatory for all clubs to take part in the tournament because it is a preparatory tournament for the league," said BFF vice president Kazi Nabil Ahmed at the draw at the BFF House yesterday.
"We have already informed the BFF today [Thursday] that we are not going to participate in the tournament until the dispute over eight footballers are resolved," Sheikh Jamal DC football committee chairman Ashrafuddin Ahmed Chunnu said outside the BFF headquarter after the press conference.
BFF senior vice president Abdus Salam Murshedy said that they would be able to complete the calendar in time despite the start of the season some four months later from the usual starting time in November-December as all clubs promised to play simultaneously in domestic and international matches.
KFC's head of compliance Sheikh Jahor Ahmed said they have been involved with country's football since 2010 and will continue to be associated with football in the future.