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BJMC edge Russell in thriller

Staff Correspondent

Team BJMC players celebrate after their Federation Cup quarter-final win over holders Sheikh Russell KC at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on Monday. — New Age photo  Team BJMC players celebrate after their Federation Cup quarter-final win over holders Sheikh Russell KC at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on Monday. — New Age photo

Team BJMC ensured the last remaining semifinal spot on offer after a thrilling battle against Sheikh Russell KC in the quarterfinal of the Federation Cup at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Monday.
As the tie ended 2-2 after 120 minutes, the last eight clash went to spotkicks where BJMC prevailed over defending champions Sheikh Russell 5-4.
The tie-breaker was 4-4 at one stage with the match delicately hanging in the balance but BJMC had the final laugh as Sheikh Russell’s Reza hit the ball over the bar while the former’s Nigerian footballer Felix’s effort went in sparking wild celebrations in the dugout.
BJMC will now face Muktijoddha Sangsad in the last four on Saturday instead of Thursday as the Bangladesh Football Federation rescheduled the fixture due to the current political situation. 
The services team were better than the current Federation Cup holders in all departments that will come as a shock as Sheikh Russell went into the quarterfinal encounter as clear favourites over their opponents.
It was Sheikh Russell though who drew first blood. In the 22nd minute of the first half, Mithun connected a fine header off a Shakil cross which went into the net via a deflection off BJMC defender Saif. The referee awarded it as an own goal by Saif.
BJMC did not take long to script a fightback over last season’s treble winners Sheikh Russell. In the 38th minute, BJMC captain Jean Jules Ikanga converted a penalty prior to which Ismail was pushed by Sheikh Russell
defender Rajani Kanta Barman.
The match was then halted for eight minutes due to the Sheikh Russell players’ protest against the referee’s decision.
After resumption, Sheikh Russell briefly threatened to go ahead in the 48th minute through France playmaker Eric Roger but the Frenchman’s 35-yard freekick came back off the goalpost.
Roger was again in the mix of things for Sheikh Russell as he earned a penalty in the 58th minute after he was brought down by BJMC goalkeeper Ariful Islam inside the box. Uruguayan midfielder Francisco Usucar made no mistake to put his side 2-1 ahead.
In the 73rd minute, BJMC again came back to haunt their opponents and levelled the scoreline through another own goal, the second of the match. BJMC’s Samson sent a header from an Abdullah Parvez corner in the path of Sheikh Russell’s Moroccan recruit, Mohamed Ameni, who accidentally prodded the ball into his own net.
Referee Mizanur Rahman made sure the tie was never far from controversies. In the 76th minute he failed to see a clear stamp by Sheikh Russell’s Mithun on the BJMC keeper. Already on a yellow card, Mithun could consider himself lucky as television replays suggested that Mithun kicked the BJMC custodian intentionally.
BJMC got the opportunity to finish off the tie in the 103rd minute of the match when Sheikh Russell’s substitute defender Fazle Rabbi fouled BJMC’s Ismail inside the box but Ikanga saw his
clumsy spotkick sail over the post.
In the other semi-final, 2011 winners Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club will face eight-time champions Abahani Limited on Friday.
The final will be played on December 9.

Team BJMC- 2 (Jean Ikanga 38, OG 53) Sheikh Russell 2 (OG 22, Framcisco 59)
Team BJMC won by 5-4 in penalty shootout

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