Vol. 5 Num 990 Wed. March 14, 2007  

B. League
Touati rescues Russel

Mohammedan Sporting Club and Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra had the top sport for grab but remained just behind leaders Brothers Union after two rounds when they shared a 1-1 draw in yesterday's B. League.

The top three now have four points with Mohammedan at third place due to inferior goal difference. The result also saw all the 11 teams drop points in the fray.

Both the sides came on back of victories in the capital derby at the Bangabandhu National Stadium but failed to rouse the poor crowd in a goalless first half.

Home skipper Nakib finally broke the deadlock early in the second half but Russel's Moroccan striker Touati Younes's second league goal cancelled the advantage within half an hour.

Mohammedan, who fielded an unchanged side, enjoyed superior possession early in the game with the four Nigerians being inspirational but all they won were a handful of corners. Zahid, who scored their match winner in a 1-0 win over Arambagh in the opening round, put the rival backline under pressure but his centre from the right flank flew harmlessly across the goal.

Russel, who rearranged their entire backline from the first match after inclusion of Moroccan centre-back and captain Bourdif Mohamed, however, got the best chance of the half. Bulbul set fellow forward Touati inside the box in the 19th minute but the Moroccan's powerful drive was parried by goalkeeper Himel for a corner.

The match came alive immediately after the breather with Belal's long throw-in from the left bringing Mohammedan midfielder Emeka close. But the yellow-haired Nigerian, who was set free by compatriot Paul's toe-poked pass, saw his thunderous volley from 12 yards spectacularly saved by custodian Shakil.

Paul's hard work soon separated the two sides in the 48th minute when the robust striker used all his strength against a rival defender to win a tackle -- ignored by referee Mansoor Azad -- and find Zahid at the right. Zahid's angular drive brushed Shakil's fingertips to the path of Nakib who effortlessly tapped the ball into an open net.

Russel took little time to recover and Moroccan pair Ighir Mohamed and Saad Fetah in the middle put on a tidy performance to mount heavy pressure on the black and whites goal. They wasted two corners before Touati equalised in the 73rd minute. The top striker in Dhaka in 2004, he shrugged off his marker Biplab inside the six-yard box and exquisitely tapped the ball into the far post with the outside of his right foot after Ighir cut a low cross from the left flank.

Russel, who edged Chittagong Mohammedan 2-1 in their first game, forced three more corners in the fag end without any avail. Touati, however, caught the Mohammedan defence napping in the 90th minute when he met a cross by fullback Aminul but the header from 15 yards did not have enough power behind it to outgun the goalkeeper.

Yellow card: Ariful (Mohammedan)

Himel, Ariful, Odafe, Biplab, Zahid, Mithu (Asad), Divine, Emeka, Belal, Nakib (Wahid and Sentu) and Paul.

RUSSEL: Shakil, Mishu, Hassan, Bourdif, Aminul, Nayan (Kaiser), Ighir, Saad, Tanvir (Amin Rana), Bulbul and Younes.

Sheikh Russel's Ighir Mohamed (L) fights for ball in an aerial challenge with Mohammedan pair Emeka and Nakib (R) during their B. League match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday. PHOTO: STAR