Bashundhara Kings' coronation
Newcomers Bashundhara Kings laid their hands on their first silverware in top-flight football with a 2-1 win against former champions Sheikh Russel KC in an entertaining final of the Walton Independence Cup at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
The big spenders, who endured the heartbreak of defeat in the final of season-opening Federation Cup a month ago, tamed an enterprising and spirited Sheikh Russel KC thanks to an extra-time goal from substitute forward Matin Mia after Marcos Vinicius's early strike was cancelled out by Sheikh Russel's Raphael Odoyin in the stoppage time of the first half.
Sheikh Russel had gone through the whole tournament without conceding a single goal, thanks to a compact defence and the country's number one goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana under the bar. So it needed something special to break the Sheikh Russel goal, and Vinicius, adjudged the best player of the final, conjured up that special effort with his left foot in the 17th minute.
The Brazilian received a small pass from midfielder Emon Babu, took a couple of steps forward before unleashing a powerful diagonal shot from 25 yards, picking the extreme right corner of Rana's net.
The goal came somewhat against the run of play as former champions Sheikh Russel had dominated in terms of shots on target and they continued to threaten the opposition goal with quick attacks.
The Blues' first attempt was in the eighth minute when Odoyin's tap-in was turned out by Bashundhara Kings' young custodian Anisur Rahman Zico.
The young goalkeeper, who saved four shots in Kings' two tiebreak wins in the knockout rounds, produced an acrobatic save to keep out Odoyin's curling shot on the hour-mark before diving to his left to deny Yeamin Munnain the 43rd minute.
However, the 21-year-old was finally beaten a minute into stoppage time when Odoyin matched Vinicius's effort with a screamer of his own. The Nigerian received a long ball just in front of the box, pirouetted on his heels to lose his marker, made a bit of space and picked the top left corner of the net with a powerful shot, giving no chance to Zico.
While Bashundhara Kings enjoyed all the possession in the world after the break, Sheikh Russel's strategy of sitting back and hitting on the break almost paid off in the 67th minute when Odoyin used his physical strength to stave off a couple of defenders on a long ball and made space to have a go on target, only to be denied by a last-ditch block by veteran defender Nasiruddin Chowdhury.
There were no more close scoring chances in the remainder of the half, but Bashundhara Kings regained the lead five minutes into the first half of extra time.
Super-sub Matin, who had scored against Abahani in Bashundhara's semifinal fixture as well, curled the ball into the far corner of the net from the left side after having easily dispossessed Biplu Ahmed just inside the box.
Sheikh Russel continued to show fighting spirit as they launched a number of attacks, but failed to beat Zico for a second time as their five-year long drought for a silverware was extended.