Curtain on Bangabandhu Cup raises today

The curtain on the much-anticipated Bangabandhu Gold Cup finally raises at the north-east city of Sylhet today with the hosts Bangladesh facing Malaysian Under-23 team in the opening match. To launch the tournament, the hosts Bangladesh Football Federation could not have chosen a better city than Sylhet, where fans showed their tremendous passion for the game in the recent past.
Tickets of all four matches, which the city is scheduled to host, have already been sold out, giving the organisers a great hope for a successful tournament
The only serious concern for the organisers is the ongoing political impasse that saw opposition 20-party alliance calling a day-long strike today at the Sylhet division.
Jayed Ahmed Chowdhury, a veteran sports organiser of Sylhet, however hoped that the present political turmoil will not affect the tournament.
‘There are only two things that can unite the whole society — one is religion and the other thing is sports,’ said Jayed, who is also a councillor of Bangladesh Cricket Board and chairman of the Sylhet Divisional Cricket Association.
‘I firmly believe that this tournament will not be hindered by the current political situation.’
Mahiuddin Ahmed Selim, president of the Sylhet DFA insisted that they have already taken all the necessary steps to keep the tournament uninterrupted.
Selim added that local people are eagerly waiting for the tournament to begin.
‘We sold all 15,000 gallery tickets and hundreds of people are still demanding for tickets.
‘The immense demand of the tickets proves the huge excitement of the people of Sylhet again.
‘We sold 25,000 tickets in August for FIFA friendly and issued 3,000 extra tickets as complimentary.
‘As we failed to control the huge crowd that time, this time we issued the tickets according to the capacity of the gallery,’ said Selim.
Bangladesh Football Federation general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag, however, said they have sold 17,400 tickets for each match and all have been sold out.
‘No complementary ticket was distributed unlike the past. Even we bought the tickets to distribute it to 10 sponsors,’ he said.
The BFF planned a 30-minute long low-key opening ceremony before the kick off.
Sylhet DFA president Selim said that the opening ceremony will highlight the culture and heritage of Sylhet region while singer Suvra Dev and Mila will perform two songs.
A local music group will also perform a song of baul singer Shah Abdul Karim.
Finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith will inaugurate the six-nation tournament as the chief guest.
This is for the first time BFF is going to host the traditional tournament outside the capital as the last two editions were held in Dhaka in 1996 and 1999.
On both the occasions, twelve teams participated in the competition.
The Malaysia B team (U-23) won the inaugural event by defeating Ujungpadang club of Indonesia 2-1 in the final while Japan League XI beat Ghana Olympic team 3-2 in the final of the second edition.

-With New Age input

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