Vol. 5 Num 568 Sat. December 31, 2005  

Nitol-Tata National Football League
Ndem shines, Abahani blaze

Abahani used all their firepower to brush aside Samabesh Club of Mun-shiganj 6-1 yesterday and cement their place atop the Super Six table of the Nitol-Tata Fifth National Foot-ball League.

Despite ensuring their semifinal berth after holders Brothers Union's 1-0 win over Muktijoddha Sangsad on Thursday, Abahani fielded a full-strength squad including all four national footballers -- skipper Joy, Ujjal, Farhad and Tipu -- and showed hunger for goals in the biggest victory of the ongoing tournament.

Cameroon midfielder Ndem Kiyak slammed a hattrick, Farhad scored twice and Ujjal found the opposition net as Abahani raised their tally to ten points with their second victory in as many super six matches.

The embarrassingly one-sided scoreline at the Bangabandhu National Stadium, however, would not tell the real story. Samabesh, whose debut at the top level of domestic soccer turned into a bitter honeymoon, were trailing 3-0 at the break but it could have easily been 3-3.

The bottom-table outfit from Munshiganj, on one point, paid for the inexperience and had to remain satisfied with a consolation 89-minute strike by Monir Hossain who tapped home a low cross from the right for his fourth goal in the tournament.

It were the visitors who got the first chance six minutes after kick-off but Masum fired the ball over the bar with sky-blues goalkeeper Nizam not in his position. Masum then hit the sidebar from a 26th minute penalty after Nizam's clumsy challenge brought Monir down inside the danger zone.

Abahani also made two more narrow escapes. Nizam, once again awkwardly out of his line, recovered the ground quickly to punch out an ambitious 50-yard lob by Ripon in the 34th minute before the Samabesh defender saw his glancing header on a right-flank corner cleared from the goalline by Abahani fullback Obaidur six minutes later.

The Abahani attack, however, made amends for all the mistakes committed by their shaky backline. After Moroccan midfielder Egir Mohammed and Farhad were denied from early chances, Ndem's burst down the right flank saw the Cameroonian opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a low and angular drive that went in off the sidebar.

After that, every wake-up call inspired Abahani to increase the margin. Farhad, who shrugged off his marker Dulal inside the box with a through by the bearded Egir, neatly placed the ball home in the 33rd minute. Farhad, who scored twice in Bangladesh's 3-0 win over Bhutan in the recently concluded SAFF Championship in Pakistan, made it 3-0 four minutes from the breather when his chip rebounded off the crosspiece and the ball came back to him via Tipu's square pass in an unmarked position.

Tipu misplaced two efforts early into the second half and Ujjal failed to beat substitute Samabesh goalie Sushil before Samabesh showed signs of fighting back. Ripon nodded the ball just wide on the hour and a minute later, Nizam pulled off a brilliant save to parry Masum's header from close.

The mighty sky-blues did not look back afterwards and Ujjal scored the team's fourth goal in the 63rd minute with a low drive from 15 yards while Ndem struck his second with a similar shot just outside from the box.

Ndem completed the third hattrick of the meet with a spectacular goal in the 75th minute when he poked a long ball by substitute Parvez over the onrushing keeper and into the net from 20 yards.

ABAHANI: Nizam, Obaidur, Pradeep, Marshall, Wali (Lajuk), Joy, Ndem, Egir, Ujjal, Farhad (Zahid) and Tipu (Parvez).

SAMABESH: Ujjal (Sushil), Farooq, Nahid, Dulal, Ripon, Arafat (Nur Hossain), Moloy, Masum, Monir and Sohag (Prashanta).

Referee: Abdul Hannan Miron.

Munshiganj Samabesh defender Prashanta looks to block an attempted shot by Abahani's hattrick hero Ndem (L) during their Nitol-Tata NFL clash at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Friday.. PHOTO: STAR