Star-studded Bangladesh Navy completed hattrick title of the Victory Day Hockey Tournament with a labourious 5-4 win over Bangladesh Army in the final of the 14th edition at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium yesterday.
It was Navy's third consecutive title since the services departments started recruiting national players as soldiers and officials in 2015. They won in 2015, 2016 and 2018, with the tournament having not been held in 2017.
National team forward Rasel Mahmud Jimmy played a key role in the victory, scoring twice and setting up the winning goal two minutes from time when match was tied 4-4 and looked headed for a tiebreak like the 2016 edition where Navy had beaten the same opposition.
Six months ago, the last match of the premier league between Mohammedan Sporting Club and Mariner Youngs Club was forced to be suspended (incomplete) with the presence of most of the players who yesterday played for Navy and Army in front of Bangladesh Air Force commando, who took position outside and inside the stadium.
The match ended without any controversy, but was a keenly contested one despite Army having only a couple of national players while Navy having most of the national players, even some warming the bench.
Former champions Army weren't expected to put up a fight, but the Navy players seemingly gained a lot of weight in last six months and the fitter Army players grabbed this opportunity with both hands. Having gone down 3-1 at one stage, Army made it 3-3 before Navy regained the lead in 52nd minute. Army again hit back to make it 4-4 with a strike from Hasan Jubair two minutes later.
Navy used their experience to score the winner from a counter-attack as Sarwar Hossain snatched the ball from an Army player to play it on for Jimmy on the right side and the veteran forward entered the box to square-pass it to unmarked Moinul Islam Koushik, who tapped into the open net.