Saif Sporting Club ended the first phase of their Bangladesh Premier League campaign on a high note, inflicting a 4-0 defeat on Brothers Union at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
However, even though Saif, runners-up of the season's curtain-raising Federation Cup, had started the competition as one of the title contenders, they are now 12 points behind leaders Bashundhara Kings.
Saif failed to carry their Federation Cup momentum into the league as they suffered four defeats in 12 matches, drawing one and winning seven. Yesterday's win helped them climb to fourth position with 22 points, three behind second-placed Abahani.
Under the tutelage of Belgian coach Paul Put, Saif put up some spirited performances in the Federation Cup and the league but the 64-year-old coach was relieved off his duties after 10 matches. That prompted the club management to pass the baton to assistant coach Zulfikar Mahmud Mintu and the local coach proved his worth by helping his charges put four past their opponents in the last two games.
Saif yesterday picked up from where they left against Bangladesh Police [4-1] as they took only 32 seconds to break the deadlock. From an attack through the right flank, John Okoli fed the ball to Faisal Ahmed Fahim, who then put a through pass to Yeasin Arafat and the defender's shot found the back of the net following a deflection off defender Munna Mia.
Fahim again turned into provider when played a cut-back inside the box for Kenneth Ikechukwu, who doubled the lead with a side-footed volley in the 19th minute. Okoli made it 3-0 with a placing shot in the 72nd minute after receiving a long ball from defender Riyadul Islam Rafi.
Brothers Union then saw Chamir Ullah denied in the 81st minute by goalkeeper Pappu Hossain, who was lucky to not concede a goal the next minute as substitute Mezbah Uddin's header ricocheted off the crossbar.
Nigerian forward Okoli wrapped it up with another placing shot in the 83rd minute after being found free in Brothers' attacking third by Yeasin's long ball.
In the day's other match, Rahmatganj registered their third victory, coming from behind and thrashing hosts Arambagh KS 4-1 in Munshiganj.
Mehbub Hasan Nayan scored a brace while Christ Remi and Beknazzarov scored one apiece after Nihat Jaman Ucchash had put Arambagh ahead early in the first half.
With their third win, Rahmatganj moved to eighth position with 13 points from 12 matches while Arambagh stayed at the bottom with a single point from 12 outings.