Bashundhara Kings determined to defend title
The country’s top football outfit Bashundhara Kings will start their campaign on Wednesday in the season’s curtain-raiser meet Walton Federation Cup 2020 with an aim to defend the title. Defending champions will take on runners-up Rahamatgonj Muslim Friends Society in the day’s opening match at Bangabandhu National Stadium (BNS) in the capital on 5:30pm.
Ahead of the meet, Kings Spanish coach Oscar Bruzon told the reporters that his team were settled and had high expectations from the team in Federation Cup.
“Federation Cup is a very prestigious meet and everybody knows that the holders are the Bashundhara Kings. Everybody tries to stop our dominance. We have been preparing for 17 weeks now. Our team looks better than others. Our team are settled and we have high expectations from the team in Federation Cup,” said Bruzon in a pre-match press conference and trophy unveiling ceremony, organised by Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) at BFF House in the capital.
Concurring with the coach, Kings newly appointed captain Topu Barman said, “We had started our practice camp for the AFC Cup. Though the meet was postponed, we didn’t stop the camp. We have been training for 4 months now. We got more time than others, it was good because we had enough time to gel together with our foreign players. Hopefully, we will perform well in the Federation Cup.”
Kings were put in Group C along with Rahmatgonj and Chattogram Abahani Ltd. Among others, Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra and Lt Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Ltd were put in Group A along with Bangladesh Championship League (BCL) champions Bangladesh Police Football Club while Dhaka Abahani Ltd and Mohammedan Sporting Club had been placed in Group D along with Muktijoddha Sangsad Krira Chakra. The four-team Group B comprises Saif Sporting Club, Brother Union Limited, Arambagh Krira Sangha and BCL runners-up Uttar Baridhara Sporting Club.
Rahamatgonj’s Head Coach Syed Golam Jilani said, “We have been training for the last month. Our three players haven’t arrived yet. We have started practice with one foreign player. Most of my local players are from the junior level. I have been working with them for the last one month. I believe my young team will play good football on the field.”
The holders had been taking preparations since August. The big-budgeted club formed a strong team of 28-member including 13 national booters and 4 foreigners. The 13 national players: Anisur Rahman, Topu Barman, Md Yeasin Khan, Bishwanath Ghosh, Sushanto Tripura, Atiqur Rahman Fahad, Mahbubur Rahman Sufil, Rabiul Hasan, Biplo Ahamed, Mohammad Ibrahim, Tawhidul Alam Sabuz, Masuk Miah Zoni and Matin Miah. Four foreigners: Raul Becerra, Jonathan da Silveira Fernandes Reis and Robson Azevedo da Silva Robinho, Khaled Shafiei.
On the other side, Rahamatgonj formed a 32-member team including four foreigners. Their Egyptian Alaaeldin Naser Flsayed Eissa arrived on Friday while Dilshod Vaisev, Khurshed Beknazaov and Lorougnon Crist Remi were yet to come. Another member of Group C, Chattogram Abahani Ltd formed a 31-member team including 3 national players and 4 foreigners. The Chattogram-based outfit retained their four former foreigners namely Kpehi Jean Charles Didier, Nixon Guylherme, Idenyi Chinedu Matthew and Pulatov Shukur Ali.
BFF Senior Vice-president and Professional Football League Committee Chairman Abdus Salam Murshedy, BFF General Secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag, Walton Group Executive Director (Games and Sports) FM Iqbal Bin Anwar Dawn and representatives from other 9 clubs were present on the occasion.
The 11-time Federation Cup champions Dhaka Abahani Ltd Portuguese coach Mario Lemos said, “Our preparation is quite good. It has been a long break, the most important thing for Abahani is the players are good, no injuries. We have a target in the tournament, but we have tough games. We are motivated. Abahani are 11-time champions of the Federation Cup, we want to do it again. But we know it is not too easy.”
The 10-time Fed Cup champions Dhaka Mohammedan SC Ltd English head coach Sean Lane said, “We have two new foreign players and eight new local players, most of them are young. Everybody is fit, everybody is ready to go. We are looking forward to the first match of Federation Cup against Dhaka Abahani.”
The 3-time Fed Cup champions Lt Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Ltd Shafiqul Islam Manik said, “We haven’t got enough time to take preparation. We always form the team eyeing on the championship. Last year, we did the same thing. This year, we retain the previous team. It is an advantage for us. There will be no lack of understanding among players, but they may face some fitness issues.”
Besides, representatives from the other six teams including Uttar Baridhara, Saif SC, Brother Union Ltd, Arambagh KS, Muktijoddha SKC and Police FC also informed about their respective preparations in the presser while BFF vice-preisdent Murshedy said that they would only allow clubs to bring their fans on a limited scale during the match days and instructed all the participating clubs to provide respective COVID-19 test reports before the matches.
Country’s first sports satellite TV channel, T-Sports, a sister concern of Bashundhara Group’s East West Media Group Limited, will telecast 16 out of 22 Fed Cup matches including four quarterfinals, two semifinals and the final.