Mohammaden content with mediocrity?
While former Premier League champions Sheikh Russel formed a strong squad, traditional powerhouses Mohammedan could only make another mediocre squad for the upcoming football season, which gets underway on Saturday through the Riviera Independence Cup. Mohammedan have not won the Bangladesh Premier League title in 12 previous attempts, with management pointing to financial constraints behind their failure to form a squad that can vie for the title.
Supporters had pinned hopes on the new management, which could not make big changes last season due to restrictions which meant they would have to play almost the same team that was part of the season which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the new management got ample time ahead of these transfers but they seemed content with a mediocre squad, retaining most of the players even though they had delivered nothing by finishing sixth in the 13-team table and being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Federation Cup. "The new committee was formed eight months ago and we could not cash in on the opportunity this window because we were a bit late to form the squad," Mohammedan's football committee member secretary Abu Hasan Prince told The Daily Star. "However, we signed good foreign players who we believe will provide us with good results in the league. We could have finished runners-up last season but did not due to the poor finishing. I will request the supporters not to be disappointed because we will prove ourselves on the ground," Prince said.
Mohammedan have signed two new foreign defenders from Australia and Macedonia while bringing back Nigerian midfielder Obi Moneke and retaining the services of Guinean striker Souleymane Diabate. Head coach Sean Lane informed they would start the Independence Cup campaign with only Diabate while the other three foreign players will arrive in Dhaka at the start of next month.
Sheikh Russel and Saif SC are now title contenders alongside Bashundhara Kings and Abahani, who are expected to complete their players' registration today.
Sheikh Russel retained only 10 players and signed national players like Saad Uddin, Rahmat Mia, Manik Hossain Molla, Habibur Rahman Shohag, Mohammad Jewel, Manaf Rabbi and Nasiruddin Chowdhury. They also roped in four new foreign players, one Kyrgyzstan national team member and three Brazilian.
Saif SC retained the services of last season's national players, including national captain Jamal Bhuiyan, defender Riyadul Hasan, Faisal Hossain Fahim and goalkeeper Pappu Hossain while national defender Manjurur Rahman Manik, former national plahyers Nasirul Islam and Shahedul Alam Shahed and some promising players like Jamir Uddin, Nazmul Islam Rasel, Kawsar Ali Rabbi and Nihat Jaman Uccchaash joined Saif SC, who also brought four new foreign players from Uzbekistan, Nigeria and Rwanda.