The quarterfinal lineup of the Walton Independence Cup completed with Rahmatganj MFS pipping Mohammedan to ensure the knock-out phase as the last team at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Rahmatganj handed a 3-0 defeat to newcomers NoFeL SC in the day's first fixture to put one step into the last-eight battle, leaving Mohammedan facing an uphill task of posting at least a five-goal margin win over leaders Chittagong Abahani. However, the Black and Whites could only manage a goalless draw to suffer their third successive elimination from the group stages of the Independence Cup since clinching the title in the 2014 edition.
It was a frustrating outcome for Mohammedan as the once successful outfit had to quit from the group stages in the second successive tournament in the season and disappointingly finished fourth in four-team group with only two points. Chittagong Abahani, Rahmatganj and NoFeL SC finished on seven, four and three points respectively.
Having already confirmed the quarterfinal berth, Chittagong Abahani coach Zulfikar Mahmud Mintu rested eight regular players who were part of their 1-0 win over Rahmatganj in the previous match, against Mohammedan yesterday. Yet the Motijheel-based outfit could not manage three points against the second-string Chittagong Abahani side.
“It is frustrating to exit from the group stages but today [Sunday] Mohammedan played good football. However, we want to make up for this loss by producing good results in upcoming Bangladesh Premier league,” opined Mohammedan's long-serving manager Amirul Islam Babu.
“The local players tried to give their best but the foreign recruits were not up to the mark like the Federation Cup. The defeat against NoFeL SC made our job for qualifying for the quarterfinals hard,” said veteran forward player Zahid Hasan Emily.
The day's first match was equally important for both NoFel SC and Rahmatganj MFS as any result other than a defeat would have taken NoFeL SC to the quarterfinals while Rahmatganj had no alternative but to win. And the latter did it convincingly to book the last-eight berth after having failed to do so the Federation Cup.
Rakibul Islam gave Rahmatganj the lead in the 36th minute by slotting home from the rebound while Congolese striker Siyo Zunapio doubled the lead with a header in the 63rd minute. Zunapio, a long-serving striker of the Old Dhaka outfit, wrapped up the victory in the 80th minute with a solo effort, running from the middle of the pitch past two opposition players before letting loose a powerful right-footed shot from the edge of the box past goalkeeper Saad Ishiaque.
RAHMATGANJ 3 - 0 NOFEL SC
RAKIBUL36', ZUNAPIO 63', 80'
MOHAMMEDAN 0 - 0 CTG ABAHANI
11 Dec Arambagh v Brothers Union
12 Dec Ctg Abahani v Sk Russel
13 Dec Abahani v Saif SC
14 Dec Bashundhara v Rahmatganj