The nearly 11-month-long football season came to an end on Saturday through the completion of the Bangladesh Premier League, which according to the country’s top coaches, was very competitive with vivid presence of quality foreign players alongside consistent performance from national team players and promising ones.
The just-concluded league, which was the 11th edition of the top-tier professional football league, produced two new records in terms of wins and goals in a single edition. There was a total of 439 goals scored, beating the previous highest of 391 goals during the third edition in 2009-10, which had featured the same number of matches (156) like this one.
A total of 119 matches produced outright results, which is also the best-ever, followed by 110 outright results in the third edition and 98 outright results in the fourth edition, both from 131 matches.
“The league was very competitive as every team had to work hard to register wins, even against the relegated team. Even if you leave out the top four teams -- Bashundhara Kings, Abahani, Sheikh Russel KC and Saif SC -- there was also intense competition among the lower-half teams and the points they gained proved it,” opined Sheikh Russel coach Saiful Bari Titu.
“The number of foreign coaches and players were more this time. Even many foreign players living in Dhaka did not find teams to play. The standard of the foreign players was also better compared to the the last season,” Titu said.
Considering the AFC Cup, the game’s local governing body this time allowed four foreign players including a player from Asia instead of previous season’s three foreign-player quota. As a result, the number of goals significantly increased, with 52 foreign players netting 272 goals out of a total of 439. In the last edition, 302 goals were scored in 132 matches.
“Due to the presence of qualify foreigners, there were more goals. Besides, except for one or two teams, all clubs played attacking football which was another reason behind more goals,” said Maruful Haque, the UEFA A licensed coach of Arambagh KS.
“Except for the champions and runners-up team, the league was more competitive compared to the last 11 years of my coaching career,” Maruful opined.
Chittagong Abahani coach Julfikar Mahmud Mintu echoed the same sentiment regarding the foreign players.
“It was good to see some quality foreign players such as Daniel Colindres, Masih Saighani, Bakhtiyar Duyshobekov,” said Mintu.
Both Titu and Mintu said that the approach of the participating clubs also changed as their clubs did not hesitate to provide facilities including a pre-season preparation camp in an attempt to produce good results.
“Except for the good performance of foreign players, some national players showed consistency which is a bit rare in our league,” said Titu.
“There were a lot of promising players, of whom a couple of players have already been picked for the national team while a few have potential to be included in near future,” said Mintu.
However, all three coaches were unhappy with the length of the season and scheduling of the league. They believe the long season is one of the reasons behind the drop in players’ performance.
“Arambagh had to play six matches in 18 days, travelling 2400km on non-AC buses. So it was very tough for the players to recover from fatigue,” Maruful said, adding that the standard of refereeing was poor.
“It was bad that one or two referees conducted matches of a certain team. If it continues like this, there will be no improvement in football. Besides, the referees took differing decisions for different in similar scenarios,” said Maruful.