The charm of the players’ transfers for top-flight football in the domestic circuit had all but vanished following the introduction of a long transfer window for the Bangladesh Premier League in 2007. However, the old-fashion inter-club transfers’ appeal returned on the penultimate day of the seven-week transfer window with four teams completing their official registration processes amid much fanfare.
In the recent past, the participating clubs completed their player registration formalities without the footballers physically being present on the occasion. This time around though, the current squads of title holders Bashundhara Kings, Mohammedan SC, Sheikh Russel KC and the newly promoted Bangladesh Police FC all turned up at the Bangladesh Football Federation headquarters in vibrant processions. There were horse-drawn carriages and marching bands while the various club officials and supporters donned their respective team jerseys.
With all four clubs present in a lively mood at the football federation premises, the excitement roused by the transfers in the past was almost palpable. To make matters more interesting, it turned out that the clubs had formed comparatively strong squads for next season, which is expected to get underway through the Federation Cup halfway through December.
Last season, defending champions Bashundhara Kings suffered from defensive woes but this time around they reinforced their backline with the inclusion of national defenders Yeasin Khan, Tapu Barman, Bishwanath Gosh and the Finland-born Kazi Tariq Raihan alongside midfielders Biplu Ahmed, Rabiul Hasan and Atiqur Rahman Fahad. Bashundhara also retained the services of 11 other current national team players such as Mahbubur Rahman, Sushanta Tripura, Masuk Mia Jonny, Towhidul Alam Sabuz, Mohammad Ibrahim and goalkeeper Anisur Rahman. Their striker from last season, world cupper Daniel Colindres, was also retained. Bashundhara now have 10 current national team players overall in their squad.
“Our target is to defend the title of the prestigious league and fight for all tournament titles this season as we have formed a balanced and better side than last season. We also want to perform well in the AFC Cup to bring laurels for the country,” said Bashundhara Kings president Imrul Hasan.
There were no remarkable recruits for Mohammedan’s youthful squad aside from goalkeeping national discard Mazharul Islam Himel. However, the presence of former Mohammedan players, draped in the team’s black and white jersey of the 1960s, was significant, especially after the club’s involvement in the recent casino scandal. The Black and Whites ended at ninth in the last edition and so will look for a top three finish this time.
“We have not only started afresh at home, but also began anew in the ground by forming a youthful squad as we are moving forward to overcome the recent turmoil. We want to prove ourselves through performing well on the ground as our Australian coach Sean Lane roped in five-quality foreign footballers,” said MSC director and football committee chairman Manjurul Alam Manju.
Bangladesh Police FC
“Bangladesh Police have long been involved with football which is the country’s traditional discipline. Hundreds of thousands of people are involved with football and we are happy to qualify for the BPL as BCL champions,” said Bangladesh Police FC president and RAB DG Benazir Ahmed. “We are determined to display good football and entertain the spectators as well as contribute to football.”
Manager and Police SAFF College rector Sheikh Maruf Hasan said that they have appointed a foreign coach and roped in foreign players in a bid to stay in top-flight football.
Sheikh Russel KC
Sheikh Russel, who finished third last season, retained the services of 11 players, including national goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana, in their 35-member squad, however, they had to release national defender Yeasin Khan, Bishwanath Gosh and Biplu Ahmed.
“Definitely, we will try to produce better results than last season but I think this season is going to be harder than the last and no one can ensure that they can win the title. We have a balanced side with a a good reserve-bench,” said coach Saiful Bari Titu.