Sheikh Jamal hit the lowest point in their short but illustrious club history with a group-stage elimination for the first time following a 0-0 draw in the last match of Group D of the Walton Independence Cup yesterday.
The former champions failed to score a goal in their two matches and quit the race with a single point. This is the first time that the Dhanmondi giants failed to make it past the group stages in any domestic tournament since their reintroduction to top-flight football in 2010.
The outcome of the match saw Sheikh Russel, who played two goalless draws, go through to the quarterfinals as runners-up along with group champions and favourites Bashundhara Kings.
Although they failed to score, it was a much better performance from the Dhanmondi giants compared to their 2-0 defeat against Bashundhara Kings. Luciano Perez was at the heart of most of their attacks, with the Argentine setting up Didarul Alam inside the box and later finding the ball himself within the first half-an-hour, although both chances went begging.
Solomon King had a shot deflect off the crossbar in the 42nd minute as Sheikh Jamal dominated possession going into the break. The domination continued in the second half as Sheikh Russel dug deeper and deeper, with Perez again coming close to breaking the deadlock in the 77th minute, but his shot from inside the box curled inches wide of the far post.
King had two attempts on goal from free-kicks, but Sheikh Russel goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana was hardly troubled. The 2013 champions, on the other hand, had an opportunity on the break to bag three points in stoppage time, but Rafael Antonio's shot was blocked by Sheikh Jamal goalkeeper Mohammed Nayeem, with Alisher Azizov blasting the rebound way off target.
Draw suits Abahani, Brothers
The other game of the day between Abahani and Brothers Union, the last game of Group C, ended in a goalless draw too, although the outcome saw both sides progress at the expense of Muktijoddha Sangsad.
Abahani were already through following their opening-game victory over Muktijoddha while Brothers needed at least a point to progress.
Abahani welcomed back their prolific striker Sunday Chizoba following his first-game absence, although the Nigerian failed to do justice to his name except for linking up with Kervens Belfort and later with substitute Rubel Mia to launch a few threatening moves.
The league champions had the lion's share of possession, but Brothers had their odd moments too, including a wonderful headed effort by Vieira Lima on a cross from his compatriot Everton Santos in the 16th minute, but the effort was ruled out as offside.
Lima had the easiest chance on the hour-mark, but he failed to make contact on a weak clearance from an Abahani defender.
There were more chances at both ends, but some lacklustre finishing saw the game end goalless. Group champions Abahani will take on Saif SC while Brothers will play against Arambagh in their quarterfinal fixtures.