Jamal favourites in todayÃ¢€™s finalStaff Correspondent
Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club will hope to make up for last season’s trophy-less campaign when they face Muktijoddha Sangsad Krira Chakra in the Federation Cup final at the Bangabandhu National Stadium at 5:00pm today.
Their opponents – three-time Fed Cup champions Muktijoddha – will be after their first silverware since winning the Independence Cup in 2005.
Muktijoddha will look to overcome the odds against favourites Jamal and win the trophy for the country’s freedom fighters just days before Victory Day.
Jamal are the better side on paper – with 10 national team players and a quality group of foreign recruits – and have backed up that perception with strong performances to date.
Jamal’s standout player has so far been Haitian playmaker Sony Norde, who has established himself as a threat to any defensive unit with his amazing movement and has also demonstrated his scoring ability with seven goals in the last four matches.
Muktijoddha coach Shafiqul Islam Manik admitted that Norde would be the main threat to his side but did not want to focus on just one player.
‘Definitely Sony is a great player, but to reach the destination we have to play against 11 players in the field and we have to focus on all of them,’ Manik said during the pre-final press conference at the BFF House on Thursday.
Muktijoddha claimed their finals berth by defeating holders Sheikh Russell KC and Team BJMC in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively, but Manik refused to talk about the past.
‘First of all we will try to stop all of our opponents by making our net secure. After that we have to go away for goals. If our boys perform their best on the day we have a bright chance to win the trophy,’ said the veteran coach, who has guided Muktijoddha to five of their six Fed Cup finals.
Jamal reached the final after knocking out powerhouses Mohammedan Sporting Club and Abahani Limited in their last two matches, which would have raised confidence levels in the Dhanmondi club’s camp.
However, Nigerian coach Joseph Afusi said that the job would be tough for his side because they have to face a side with a technically and tactically sound coach in Manik.
‘Last season we went to the final but we finished runners-up. So we set a goal and target for ourselves for this season that anything less than championship is not enough,’ said Afusi.
‘I was concentrating more on opponent coach [Manik]. I know he is a very good coach; he is intelligent and he understands football. I played against him last season and every time I played against him I found it difficult to play against him.
‘I know tactically he is very good. So tomorrow [Friday] it will not be easy for us playing against a coach like Manik with the team he has,’ Afusi said.
‘I don’t think that we are favourites. Their players are motivated and they qualified to the final by beating big teams before reaching the final. I think it’s fifty-fifty for both sides,’ the Nigerian coach added.
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