Muktis bury eight years of gloomStaff Correspondent
After an eight-year hiatus, Muktijoddha Sangsad finally put their frustration behind and moved to a major cup final after their penalty shootout victory against Team BJMC in the Federation Cup semifinal on Saturday.
As the tie was delicately balanced at 1-1 after 120 minutes of normal and extra-time, tie-breaker was required to separate the two teams and Muktijoddha nudged ahead 5-3 to progress to the final of the 28th Federation Cup, where Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club lie in wait.
All the five Muktijoddha spotkicks crashed into the back of the net while their substitute goalkeeper Rasel Mahmud Liton saved Team BJMC’s Mohammed Tara Khan’s shot to ensure the former’s place in a cup final for the first time since 2005.
Muktijoddha’s Enamul, Biplob, Choumin Rakhai, Nkwocha Kingsley and Eleta Kingsley were the scorers for their side in the penalty shootout while Samson Iliasu, Ismael Bangoura and Jean Jules Ikanga scored for Team BJMC but Tara’s miss broke the latter’s dream.
Muktijoddha went ahead in the 76th minute through Nigerian forward Eleta Kingsley, who coolly headed a Zahid Parvez corner into the path of the Team BJMC goal as he was unmarked.
After conceding the goal, Team BJMC went all-out for the equaliser. And they came close on a few occasions.
A powerful volley by Bangoura from 20 yards out was saved by Muktijoddha keeper Liton in the 81st minute that was followed by a couple of near misses from the Team BJMC forward-line.
Bangoura though kept Team BJMC’s hope alive by earning a penalty four minutes from the end of normal time after he fell down from a challenge by Muktijoddha custodian Liton inside the box.
The television replay suggested that Team BJMC were lucky to earn the penalty from the referee as it was clearly apparent that Guinean marksman Bangoura had simulated a dive.
Bangoura though remained nonchalant and calmly slotted the spotkick into the back of the net past the despairing lunge of Liton.
Muktijoddha were livid right before the end of regulation time as a perfectly good goal was disallowed for offside. Television replays again showed that there was nothing wrong with the goal.
Muktijoddha coach Shafiqul Islam Manik credited his players after the end of the topsy-turvy game.
‘I’m happy to see my team in the final and all the credit goes to my players. But now we have to think about the final match where we have to beat the strongest opponent in the competition, Sheikh Jamal,’ said Manik.
On the other hand, Team BJMC coach Ali Asgar Nasir refused to blame his unit, expressing satisfaction with the display of his charges.
‘Maybe we didn’t play well like the previous matches but I was satisfied with the performance of my players as they tried hard to move to the final but we lost the game in the tie breaker, which is all about luck,’ said Nasir.
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