Muktijoddha keep title hopes alive

June 3, 2012

Muktijoddha Sangsad kept their hopes of a maiden professional league title alive with a 3-0 victory over a hapless Brothers Union at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday. The All Reds, who finished runners-up in the last edition of the top tier league, cut Abahani’s lead at the top of the Grameenphone Bangladesh Premier League table to two points with their fourth win in five matches.
The victory, which was revenge for their 2-1 defeat in the first leg, put Muktijoddha on 34 points from 16 matches, two behind leaders Abahani who have 36 points from 15 matches. Brothers Union, on the other hand, have now lost four matches in a row and are facing relegation at seventh place. The Oranges have 15 points from 16 matches but they have played two matches more than the other teams below them in the table.
The first half of the match was a cagey affair when both sides pressed for domination but neither came close to breaking the deadlock. The first shot on target came in the sixth minute from Muktijoddha midfielder Shakil Ahmed, whose grounder hit the post before it rebounded off Sunday Chizoba into the net. But the Nigerian striker was standing in an offside position and hence the goal was disallowed. Borthers’ first serious attempt came in the 21st minute when Mohammad Javed’s lob was headed strongly by Kingsley Chigozie but the Muktijoddha keeper Maksudur Rahman cleared with a diving save.
Brothers came close to finding the net when a corner in the 40th minute slipped through the grasp of Maksudur before Ariful Islam stepped in to clear the ball, and the rebound from Jamal Hossain was punched away by the keeper. The clearance fell to Sunday who raced to the Brothers danger zone before being pulled back by defender Samuel Jankasa. Sunday’s dipping kick missed the target by inches.
Muktijoddha came back roaring after the breather and broke the deadlock in the 46th minute, thanks to gigantic Brazilian defender Rafael de Androde who headed in Ariful Islam’s throw. Three minutes later Brothers replied with an excellent counterattack and should have got the equaliser, but Muktijoddha keeper Maksudur Rahman made two brilliant saves to thwart attempts from Kingsley Chigozie and Victory Antony.
But that was the last serious attack from the Oranges as they chased shadows thereafter. Muktijoddha expectedly made it 2-0 in the 70th minute when Nasiruddin Chowdhury clinically finished with an angular shot from inside the box after receiving a through ball from Sunday Chizoba.
Sunday, the former Mohammedan striker, then spurned two great opportunities to increase the margin as he tried to finish things off on his own rather than teeing it off for forwards who were in better positions to score. On both occasions, Brothers’ young keeper Raghu came to the rescue. But the Nigerian had the last laugh, as he scored his 10th goal of the season in the stoppage time by dodging three players in the midfield before neatly placing the ball over the keeper to seal a convincing 3-0 victory.
Muktijoddha coach Shafiqul Islam Manik said they were very much in the title race and hoped his side would keep playing like they did in this match. “The way we are playing, we have every chance of winning the title, which is what we need to motivate the players. We have four matches left, and if we can play like this, we can mount a title challenge,” said Manik.
Brothers’ coach Syed Nayeemuddin said his team were lacking quality foreign players in attack and that the club is not financially solvent to challenge the big guns.

-With The Daily Star input

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