Vol. 5 Num 981 Sun. March 04, 2007  

B. League
Brothers' bright start
Khulna Abahani blank Rahmatganj

Both the home teams recorded comfortable victories on the second day of the B. League after opening day's goalless affair.

A brace from Nigerian striker Elijah Junior gave Brothers Union a 3-0 win against Chittagong Abahani at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday but the winners' evening was ruined when midfielder Monwar Hossain was sent off five minutes from time for his second bookable offence.

In Khulna, Prashanta Dey scored the first goal in the history of professional football in the country as Khulna Abahani blanked capital side Rahmatganj 2-0.

Unlike their Chittagong wing, Abahani enjoyed superior ball possession and home advantage at the Khulna Stadium but had to wait 42 minutes to take the lead when Prashanta broke the deadlock. Mamun sealed three points for the Khulna outfit in the 68th minute.

Two-time Dhaka Premier League champions Brothers Union, on the other hand, struggled after Faisal Mahmud's powerful drive went just wide in the seventh minute.

A shadow of the previous two seasons' mighty side, the Oranges dominated but failed to break a tidy five-man backline of Abahani, who came close to stun their Dhaka rivals.

However, twin saves by Mohammed Ali kept Brothers alive when the goalkeeper stopped striker Jitu's shot from close and held Anwar's long range effort on the rebound in the 18th minute.

Brothers, under the guidance of India's ex-national coach Syed Nayeemuddin, fielded only one foreigner although they have registered four and the selection was justified when Junior outfoxed the rival defence with speed and power to score in the 37th minute.

The Nigerian headed down a right-flank cross by Faisal to go past Dhiman and blasted a right-footed volley into the near post to separate the two sides.

After long range efforts by both sides tamed by the keepers early in the second half, Junior capitalised on a defence lapse to make it 2-0 65th minute. Narayan intercepted a through by Brothers' substitute midfielder Shakil but the tall Abahani defender played it back into his own area, handing Junior a chance to shrug off Mintu and neatly place home.

Five minutes later, Faisal, who left Mohammedan this season, did brilliant work at left to chip a pinpoint cross at the far post, where his ex-Mohammedan teammate Manju needed a simple nod to put the match beyond the port city side.

Junior should have completed a hattrick but he wasted two great chances and his spadework at left wing went down the drains as substitute Rony mishit a chance from handshaking distance.

Swapan Das's boys from Chittagong, who host Khulna Abahani in the second round, will have to play with an all-local side till the mid-season transfer window begins as they have failed to register any foreigners.

The B. League will resume on Tuesday with Sheikh Russel KC hosting Chittagong Mohammedan in Dhaka.

Red card: Monwar (Brothers)

Yellow card: Anwar (Ctg Abahani)

Ali, Shuvra, Jewel Rana, Masud Rana, Lajuk, Rintu (Mamun), Monwar, Faisal, Jalal (Shakil), Manju (Rony) and Junior.

CTG ABAHANI: Kamal, Gobinda, Narayan, Sohel, Mintu, Dhiman, Nurul Islam, Johnny (Tripti), Khokon, Anwar (Towhidul) and Jitu (Jahangir).

Referee: Ramkrishna Ghosh.

Brothers Union's Nigerian striker Junior races past Chittagong Abahani defender Mintu (R) during their B.League encounter at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday. PHOTO: STAR