Rahmatganj celebrate survival, Farashganj relegated
After a visibly dubious win over runners-up Sheikh Jamal, bottom-of-the-table Farashganj would have thought that they had done their bit to avoid relegation. But as it would turn out, there was yet more drama on the last day of the league. The drama came in the form of another relegation battler, Rahmatganj, beating eventual fourth-place finishers Saif Sporting Club 2-0, a win that secured their safety while condemning their neighbours Farashganj to relegation.
After Farashganj had bagged all three points in their last match, moving up to 17 points and Muktijoddha had followed suit with a draw against Team BJMC the following day, the onus was on Kamal Babu's men to get all three points. Although they did it successfully, thanks to some early dominance which eked out both goals in the first half, the lacklustre approach from Saif, who had beaten title-aspirants Chittagong Abahani 3-0 in their previous match and had the opportunity to finish third with a win, is certain to raise a few questions.
Saif had turned up without any of their foreign players, supposedly in an attempt to give the local players gametime ahead of the Independence Cup, which will be played without foreign recruits. Rahmatganj, on the other hand, fielded two of their foreign forwards as they were desperate for a win.
The Old Dhaka outfit took the lead two minutes into the match when Saddam Hossain's free-kick was only half-cleared by a Saif defender, with skipper Naimur Rahman Shahed hitting the top of the net.
The lead was doubled in the 34th minute when Mohammad Sohel volleyed home with his left foot from inside the box after Saddam's throw-in was headed to his path by a fellow forward, with the Saif defence almost standing still.
The remainder of the match was a dogged affair, with both sides trying to impose their dominance but neither coming close to changing the scoreline. As the referee blew the final whistle, the win was wildly celebrated by Rahmatganj fans, with the club president Haji Selim MP and other high-officials joining the celebration.
Rahmatganj coach Kamal Babu was in fact so very relieved at having guided his side to safety that he could not control his tears at the dug-out, and to some extent, his words too.
“Both goals were excellent as we created pressure right from the beginning and got success. We were helped by the absence of their foreign striker [Sheringham] due to suspension and we kept their two key players – Jewel Rana and Matin Mia – in heavy marking,” said the Rahmatganj coach, who also looks after Saif's under-16 team.
When asked whether the win came a bit too easy for them, he said, “It is always tempting to ask for a favour after that game involving Sheikh Jamal and Farashganj which Sheikh Jamal had given up and has been widely reported (in the media). But Saif Sporting are always against match fixing and would never do such a thing even if the world fell apart.”
The match was, meanwhile, not telecast on TV due to some 'technical issues' of Blueline Communications, the production house of Saif PowerTec, which is also the parent company of Saif Sporting Club.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Russel and Arambagh played out a goalless draw in the last match of the league last night. The draw meant Sheikh Russel finished in sixth position with 27 points while Arambagh finished in eighth position with 21 points.