Why Abahani failed again?
Dhaka Abahani are the pioneers of modern football in Bangladesh and have dominated the domestic circuit since its inception, but the Dhanmondi giants still lag behind when it comes to transforming that domestic form into international success.
The Sky Blues have a trophy cabinet full of all kinds of domestic silverware, but their foreign trophy collection features only the 1989 Nagjee Trophy, 1994 Charms Cup, 2010 Bordoloi trophy, etc.
Their recent elimination from the group stages of Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup and five failures in qualifying for the finals of the now defunct AFC President's Cup only refer to their international failure.
On the other hand, new powerhouses like Sheikh Jamal DC, Sheikh Russel KC and Chittagong Abahani have already got better international recognition as Sheikh Jamal won two international trophies – the Pokhra Cup in Nepal, King's Cup in Bhutan before and a runners-up trophy of the prestigious IFA Shield. They have also shone in AFC Cup play-off Qualifiers.
Sheikh Russel reached the finals of AFC President's Cup in their debut participation while Chittagong Abahani kept the inaugural trophy of Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup.
So why can't Abahani do the same at an international level? Abahani manager Satyajit Das Rupu said, “I think, we play against unknown opponents and we need to play very carefully. The first match is always important but if you lose the first match, then things go out of control.
“There may be lack of concentration. It is not only the responsibility of the players, all are responsible. The management can motivate the players, but they can't perform on the ground,” said the former national midfielder.
In the ongoing tournament, Abahani lost 2-0 against TC Sports Club, played out a goalless draw against Korea's third-tier club Pocheon Citizen FC and posted a win against FC Alga, but had to be content with a third-place finish among four teams.
Sheikh Jamal DC's former manager Anwarul Karim Helal believes success at the international level depends on how the team management plays their role to realise the performance of the players.
“It is all about management, if the management is all right, then you can get the success,” Helal said. “The management of Sheikh Jamal made the players perform hundred percent.”
“We had 15-16 national players, who performed well for the club side but not perform when they played for the national team. What was the reason? The reason was management,” said Helal, who was the manager during Sheikh Jamal's spree of domestic and international success.
Veteran coach Shafiqul Islam Manik believes performing at international level also depends on how the players to settle down before participation.
“As most of the clubs participate in international tournaments in post-season period, the players remain uncertain of their next season signing. So the players need to be assured about their future to get the maximum service from them,” Manik said. “Furthermore, the players must be united and disciplined to get the success, which needs to be ensured by the team management.”
Now five-time professional football league champions Abahani are all set to get another opportunity to erase their infamous tag of an international failure as they prepare for next month's AFC Cup.