Nigerian striker Sunday Chizoba slotted a hattrick to power holders Abahani to an emphatic 5-2 win over Rahmatganj MFS in the return-leg encounter of Bangladesh Premier League at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Sunday became the fourth player to score a hattrick in the ongoing league after Ballo Famoussa of Muktijoddha Sangsad, Zahid Hossain of Arambagh and his teammate Nabib Newaj Jibon, who had scored a hattrick against the same opposition in the first leg at the same venue.
With the treble, the 29-year-old marksman consolidated his position on top of the scorers’ chart with 14 goals, three ahead of Jibon, who also scored one in the game. The other goal for Abahani was scored by Jewel Rana.
The win helped Abahani move to 39 points from 16 matches, four behind leaders Bashundhara even though the second-half performance from the Sky Blues might cause a few worries for the coach ahead of their AFC Cup match against Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi Club on June 19.
Abahani took a comfortable 4-0 lead in the first half against Rahmatganj, whom they had beaten 5-1 in their first meeting. However, some sloppy defending saw Abahani concede two goals in five minutes in the second half before Sunday completed his hattrick in stoppage time.
“We played well in the first half but in the second half, the players were too causal and slow on the back of a 4-0 lead. Rahmatganj also came hard in the second half to score two goals,” said Abahani’s Portuguese coach Mario Lemos.
“I think the defenders will not make such mistakes in the AFC Cup but we have to fix it in the next three days by working hard because the match against Manag Marshyangdi is very important for us,” said Lemos.
Though Sunday is in rich form in domestic league, the Nigerian has only scored one goal in four matches in the AFC Cup.
“I think today’s performance will help me perform well on our home match against Manang because it is a very crucial match for us and we need points in the penultimate matchday of the AFC Cup,” said Sunday.
Sunday put Abahani tapped home in the ninth minute when Afghan defender Mashi Saighani back-headed a Raihan Hasan throw-in to the far post before doubling the lead with a left-footed shot from inside the box in the 32nd minute after Kervens Belfort released a long ball from his own half.
Then Sunday put a forward-pass for Jewel Rana, who darted into the box to beat goalkeeper Titumir Chowdhury with an angular shot in the 36th minute before Jibon struck his 11th goal of the campaign a minute before the break.
After resumption, Rahmatganj reimbursed two goals as Siyo Zunapio beat goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Shoel in the 65th minute while Didarul Alam made it 4-2 with a 30-yard drive in the 70th minute. However, Sunday wrapped up the victory in the stoppage time.