A trip down Dhaka Derby lane

Sheikh Mohammad Aslam, Ashraf Uddin Ahmed Chunnu, Kaisar Hamid and Imtiaz Ahmed Nakib – four stalwarts of Abahani and Mohammedan during the golden era of the two Dhaka clubs’ rivalry, recollect their memories of enthralling Dhaka Derbies in conversation with The Daily Star’s Anisur Rahman as the two footballing giants are set to face off in the final of the Federation Cup for the first time in 14 years.

Sheikh Mohammad Aslam

Abahani striker (From 1984-1992 and 1994-1995)

After joining Abahani from BJMC in 1984, I had to endure abusive words from the fans for some off-target shots during a practice session ahead of the match against Mohammedan. I left the ground with a heavy heart. I also decided to leave the club but Harunur [Rashid] bhai calmed me down. The next day Kazi Salahuddin came under heavy criticism from the fans from the galleries after missing a few chances during the match and coach Ali Imam bhai took him off in the second half, piling the pressure on me to score. I received a through-pass from [Hasanuzzaman Khan] Bablu bhai, dribbled past two Mohammedan defenders and the goalkeeper to score the first goal of my Abahani career. This is an unforgettable memory for me because I still can feel the heat of that match and joy of that goal. Later I scored another goal.


Ashraf Uddin Chunnu    

Abahani forward (1975-1988)

One incident in 1982 was exceptional. Mohammedan had already ensured the league title, but we were determined to break their unbeaten run when we met. However, the venue turned into a battleground after an Abahani equaliser was ruled out. The full-house crowd invaded the ground, forcing cops to fire tear shells. The players were confined inside the stadium till 12:00pm. Police later dropped the players at respective club tents. I returned to the national team camp at NSC dormitory but police took me, along with other Abahani players to the Rajarbagh Police Lines for taking statement. In the morning, we were sent to Ramna Police Station. The next day a court martial sent four of us – Kazi Salahuddin, Kazi Anwar, Golam Rabbani Helal and myself -- to jail. That incident, I think, will remain a black day in the country's football. 


Kaiser Hamid

Mohammedan defender (1985-1997)

I can recall countless memories regarding the Dhaka Derby match but the memories of my first two seasons in Mohammedan are most remarkable for me since I scored two goals against the Sky Blues in the Federation Cup final in my debut season of 1985. We beat Abahani twice in the league too but we failed to win the title after suffering a 2-1 defeat against Arambagh. I got injured in the previous match against Abahani and couldn't play against Arambagh. It was demoralising for me but the next season we became unbeaten champions beating Abahani, who had foreign players like Chima Okorie, goalkeeper Monoranjan Bhattacharjee, Prem Lal and Packeer Ali. Abahani needed only a draw to win the title, but we beat them 2-0 to regain the title. This victory was a redemption for me and the club after the close miss the previous season.


Imtiaz Ahmed Nakib

Mohammedan striker (From 1989-1994 and 1999-2007) 

The whole nation used to turn fever pitch for Mohammedan-Abahani matches and I was no exception to that feeling. It was amazing to see spectators at the club tent from the morning on the match days and then a full-house crowd at the stadium. Among all the memories, the sweetest one was in a match in 2000 when I scored a hattrick against Abahani. Interestingly, I have never played for Abahani and I have scored hattricks against each of Abahani outfits – Dhaka Abahani, Chittagong Abahani, Khulna Abahani, Rajshahi Abahani, Sylhet Abahani and Faridpur Abahani. I still feel proud when Abahani fans tell me I was the cause of many of their defeats. I also enjoyed when the Abahani fans taunted me, and even when they used to call me jamai [sister-in-law], even though I still don't know why they used to call me jamai.