Sk Jamal win a feisty battle
The first big clash of the season produced an ill-tempered affair at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday as Sheikh Jamal edged bitter rivals Sheikh Russel 2-1 to book their fifth consecutive Federation Cup final.
The defending champions came from behind and needed an 89th minute winner to overcome the spirited Sheikh Russel during a match, which was marked by debatable decisions, on-field scuffles and verbal taunts between the tacticians.
The tension began even before the two sides had taken the field as the players of Sheikh Russel occupied the dressing room designated for their opponents and stuck to their decision, forcing the start of the match delayed by 30 minutes.
Once the game started, it was the defending champions who dominated the pace of the game. But their two strikers -- Wedson Anselme and Emeka Darlington -- squandered a couple of early chances, heading wide of the target. And they had to pay for those wasted opportunities as Sheikh Russel, playing in counter-attacking approach, took the lead in against the run of play in the 40th minute.
Nigerian striker Kingsley Chigozie was brought down by Sheikh Jamal defender Yeamin Munna inside the danger zone and the referee pointed to the spot. The expert penalty kick taker Zahid Hasan Emily made no mistake as he dispatched the ball to left side of goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel.
The former champions could have taken a strangle hold of the game at the stroke of half time had Chigozie's effort was not denied by the woodwork.
Sheikh Jamal pressed on for the equaliser after the restart but it was Sheikh Russel who came close to doubling the lead from a counter attack. However, Sheikh Jamal goalkeeper Sohel came out off the box and handled the goal-bound chip from Chingozie to block the attempt. Referee Tayeb Hasan only served a yellow card to the national team's goalkeeper and allowed a free-kick to Sheikh Russel. The decision was met with anger by the Sheikh Russel players and the match was halted for five minutes.
Surviving the scare, Sheikh Jamal stepped up the pressure and levelled the scores in the 64th minute when skipper Nasirudding Chowdhury, receiving a chip from Wedson on the edge of the box, drove a low shot past Sheikh Russel goalkeeper Rasel Mahmud Liton. Then as the match seemingly headed for extra time, Emeka dealt a fatal blow on Sheikh Russel's hopes by heading in a cross from Weson just one minute from the end of regulation time.
Sheikh Russel coach Dragan Djukanovic, who was involved in verbal spat with his counterpart during the game, blamed the referee for the defeat. “The referee changed the course of the game. He ignored two sending-offs and killed the game,” alleged Djukanovic.
Sheikh Jamal coach Maruful Hauqe claimed his side were also denied valid appeals for penalty.
“It (decision of the referee) is part of the game. The referee also ignored one of our penalty appeal and overlooked a handball incident of Sheikh Russel defender Bojan Petric inside the danger zone,” said Maruful.