Vol. 5 Num 574 Fri. January 06, 2006  

Nitol-Tata National Football League
Refereeing blamed

Both Abahani and Muktijoddha officials criticised refe-ree Abdul Hannan for his 'faulty' handling of their yesterday's NFL semifinal.

Abahani beat Muktijoddha 2-1 and the losing coach George Kottan burst out at the post-match conference at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.

Although many early decisions by the referee went against Abahani when he ignored numerous fouls committed by Muktijoddha's foreign midfield duo of Adafa and Rachid, Kottan was angry.

"You can't win against a force or cheating," the Austrian said.

"Two good teams were playing today but we were deprived of a certain penalty in the dying moments," said Kottan referring to a foul against Rachid inside the Abahani penalty area after the Muktis went 2-0 down.

"First, our player Jeremiah was suspended for two games and then this cheating on the field. We cannot work against evil forces," added Kottan, who is also a former Bangladesh national coach.

It can be mentioned that Hannan was not allowed to conduct a single match in the SAFF Championship after his inferior conducting of the Maldives-Sri Lanka international in Pakistan last month.

Abahani manager Satyajit Das Rupu complained that the opposition intentionally killed Abahani's attacks with rough tackles but the referee did not bother to caution them.

Moroccan Rachid was lucky to be on the pitch after a serious foul on rival centre-back Marshall while Adafa was given only one yellow card despite being in an attacking mood throughout the game.

And that was not all, referee Hannan showed red card to Muktijoddha midfielder Bidyut for hitting assistant referee Ram-krishna Ghosh after the midfielder had been substituted.

Muktijoddha's suspended Nigerian striker Jeremiah, watching the game from the VIP stands, assaulted Mansoor Azad -- the referee who had sent him off during a Super Six game -- after yesterday's match but Muktijoddha officials said they were unaware of the incident.

"I am happy that I have contributed in the team's win as a captain," said Abahani and national team captain Joy, who was adjudged man-of-the-match.

"I think we have given our fans something to cheer about after a long time. Now we want to win the title," added the shaven-headed midfielder.

Coach Amlesh Sen admitted that Abahani were not as attractive as they had been in the tournament.

"We did not want to concede a goal. Moreover, they were playing rough. The two fullbacks were instructed not to overlap much. We knew that our midfield and attack would be able to score if they got chances. Now we have to concentrate on the final," the veteran said.

For a change, cheerleaders were introduced for the semifinal and they will back their teams with enthusiastic displays also in the remaining two matches, but at times they were causing distractions.

"We were disturbed by the cheerleaders who were standing too close to the bench. I have no problem about having them in the field but they were blocking our view of the game. Also, we could not instruct the players during the match due to the noise created by the supporting brass band," Rupu complained.