Vol. 5 Num 400 Tue. July 12, 2005  

Bad stalemate for Abahani

Abahani's title hopes in the Premier Foot-ball League suffered a massive blow when they were held to a goalless draw by Farashganj Sporting Club in a match that saw both sides ending with ten men.

Abahani completed their first-leg campaign in a disappointing fourth place with 15 points -- five less than leaders Mohammedan who have a match in hand -- while Farashganj were just behind on 14 after the first phase engagements.

Abahani had only their forwards to blame for wasting a series of chances in an embarrassingly one-sided affair on a water soaked pitch. They could also count themselves unlucky after referee Tayab Hassan made a number of questionable decisions that went against the popular Dhanmondi outfit.

Tayab, who has been inconsistent throughout the season, sent off Farashganj midfielder Amirul in the 84th minute for his second bookable offence. Abahani captain Joy was the next to receive the marching orders one minute before the regulation time after he picked up his second yellow card in the space of a minute. The second yellow came when he pushed his younger brother Johnny, who plays for Farashganj, but the first one was given under dubious circumstances as Abahani booters were trying to build a wall against a debatable indirect freekick inside their box.

Abahani rightback Obaidur had won a sliding tackle against Johnny and the ball ran to goalkeeper Anwarul who gripped it without hesitation and passed to a fellow player. But Tayab, in a delayed reaction, awarded Farashganj the freekick ruling that the goalkeeper had handled a backpass.

Tayab was also surprisingly lenient towards Farashganj's Guinean centre-back Scylla who was cautioned just two minutes after kick-off. But the former Abahani defender then got away with one brutal challenge after another. The referee further agitated the Abahani faithful at the Bangabandhu National Stadium by blowing the final whistle without giving any stoppage time much to the surprise of the fourth referee who had got up from his chair to display the injury time.

Furious Abahani fans broke chairs of the VIP stand and hurled anything throwable into the ground after the match and the referee had to be escorted to safety by the police. Fortunately, only a few hundred Abahani supporters were present at the stadium. Otherwise there could have been more violent scenes.

Abahani had begun the game brightly with Ghanaian striker Ibrahim, playing behind forwards Farhad and Tipu, providing defence splitting passes. But Tipu was denied twice by the rival keeper Zia before debutant Cameroonian defender Ngassa Marshall's effort bounced off a defensive wall.

Ujjal committed an unpardonable mistake in the 63rd minute when he skimmed the upright from a handshaking distance. Joy spoiled the easiest chance of the day, pushing a rebound over the bar after Piru had half-cleared substitute Anwar's powerful drive in the 74th minute.

Red cards: Joy (Abahani, 89th minute) and Amirul (Farashganj, 84th minute)

Yellow cards: Ibrahim, Tipu, Farhad (Abahani) and Scylla, Adafa (Farashganj)

Abahani: Anwarul, Obaidur, Pradeep, Ngassa, Lajuk, Zahid (Parvez), Joy, Ibrahim, Ujjal, Farhad (Anwar) and Tipu.

Farashganj: Zia (Piru), Apu, Faisal, Scylla, Khaled, Arup, Kabir, Adafa, Amirul, Felix (Johnny) and Palash (Walid).

Farashganj goalkeeper Zia leaps high in the air to punch the ball from an Abahani corner at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday. PHOTO: STAR