Comeback Kings retain Independence Cup
Bashundhara Kings wrote another comeback story to retain their Independence Cup title with a dramatic 2-1 win over Mohammedan SC in the final at the Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni Stadium in Gopalganj yesterday.
The Kings had made a habit of staging come-from-behind victories in their recent AFC Cup campaign, where they won four matches on the trot after conceding first.
Yesterday, the charges of Oscar Bruzon displayed the same fighting spirit in the final, where they bounced back after getting reduced to 10 men and conceding the first goal to win their third Independence Cup title.
Kings' Brazilian trio of Dorielton Gomes, Miguel Ferreira and Robson Da Silva, who had played crucial roles in those victories in the AFC Cup, were the architects behind their victory in the final as Robson fed Rakib Hossain the equaliser and Miguel assisted Dorielton in scoring the winner.
Though the stakes were not as high as the AFC Cup, Kings faced a stern test against the self proclaimed 'underdogs' Mohammedan SC.
Alfaz Ahmed's charges held their own in the first half and after Kings' winger Rafiqul Islam was handed his marching orders in the 48th minute, Mohammedan made full use of their one-man advantage and took the lead in the 50th minute, courtesy of a header from Nigeria's Emanuel Sunday.
But conceding the goal lit a fire under the bellies of the Kings, as it took them only two minutes to retaliate with a goal.
"Despite being reduced to 10 men, we played with the same approach of attacking football. We knew anything could happen in the final but we were optimistic of winning the match," said Rakib, who levelled the margin with a low left-footed drive inside the box.
Kings never looked like they were a man short as they kept pressing hard for the winner which came just two minutes later.
Kings' Brazilian captain Robson said that despite conceding first and being a player short, he believed his team would bounce back, like they had done many times before in recent months.
"When we conceded the goal, I knew it was going to be a difficult game. But our team has been very good and mentally strong…. When we levelled the game, I knew we were going to be champions," Robson said after the match.
After being reduced to 10 men, Bruzon made some tactical changes, keeping forwards Dorielton and Miguel upfront and deploying three centre backs to strengthen the defence.
Bruzon said that he had learnt from their 1-2 defeat at the hands of Mohammedan in last season's Federation Cup and made the necessary tactical changes.
"That was our mental preparation ahead of the game because we knew playing against Mohammedan in Gopalganj will be a very tough game and we had that experience against them in last season's Federation Cup semifinal. So, we were much more prepared this time.
"We did not play our usual buildup game and didn't control the midfield much. We tried to win the second ball and capitalised the set-pieces. Mohammedan was also ready for us. I think the game could've gone either way and we are lucky to defend the title," Oscar said.