Kings the new champions
A brace from Costa Rican World Cupper Daniel Colindres helped Bashundhara Kings lift the title of the TVS Federation Cup with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Rahmatganj MFS in an exciting final at the Bangabandhu Nation Stadium yesterday.
This is the first Federation Cup title for Bashundhara Kings, who became the seventh team to win the season’s curtain-raising tournament after Abahani, Mohammedan SC, Brothers Union, Muktijoddha Sangsad, Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russel. The achievement also ensured Bashundhara’s play-off berth in next season’s AFC Cup.
Though the final was expected to be an uneven battle, reality was different as minnows Rahmatganj fought hard until goalkeeper Rasel Mahmud Liton made an unforgivable blunder to concede the decider in the second half after the Old Dhaka outfit had bounced back from a one-goal first-half deficit.
With the Bashundhara supporters thronging the eastern gallery and the Rahmatganj fans turning up at the west, the big bowl saw an electrifying atmosphere with constant beating of drums and blowing of vuvuzelas.
The presence of Rahmatganj fans was a sight to behold as residents of the old part of Dhaka turned up with huge enthusiasm bearing hundreds of tiny yellow-and-green flags to inspire the players, who were playing the final of any tournament in top-flight football for the first time in the 87-year history of the club.
Even though their dream run came to an end due to an error from former national goalkeeper Liton, Rahmatganj could be proud of their best achievement in top-flight football since becoming runners-up in Premier Division League in 1977.
Bashundhara Kings were the more impressive side right from the start and kept the Rahmatganj defenders on their toes in the first 15 minutes. They came close to opening the scoring in the very second minute when Matin Mia darted into the box dancing past two defenders, but he spent too much time on the ball before Bakhtyir Duishobekov’s header came off the crossbar.
Defender Nahidul Alam kept Rahmatganj in the match by clearing a goal-bound header from Nicolas Delmonte in the eighth minute before Rahmatganj started to launch a few attacks. Forward Shuhel Mia, after being set by Turaev Akobir, hit the ball straight to Bashundhara goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico and the same player later drove miles off target from the edge of the box.
Bashundhara broke the deadlock in the 41st minute when Colindres headed home a well-judged cross from Bishwanath Ghosh after Rahmatganj’s trustworthy Tajik defender Acpopob Asrorov had left the ground picking up an injury.
After resumption, Bashundhara kept their dominance while Rahmatganj tried to attack on the break. The Bangladesh Premier League champions saw Duishobekov hitting the post on the hour-mark before Rahmatganj stunned them in the 63rd minute. Gambian forward Momodou Bah rose high to nod home a Shahedul Alam corner, but the lead lasted only 13 minutes, courtesy of the mistake from Liton who had made two brilliant saves minutes earlier.
Liton casually attempted to clear a back-pass, but Colindres raced in to snatch the ball and tapped into the open net, breaking the hearts of Rahmatganj fans.