Vol. 5 Num 1004 Wed. March 28, 2007  

B. League
Russel, Mukti smile
Alfaz slams first hattrick

Alfaz Ahmed notched the first hattrick of the B. League to give Muktijoddha Sangsad the biggest win of the competition so far yesterday.

The Reds' 4-1 win over Rahmatganj at the Bangabandhu National Stadium took the heavyweights to second place with two consecutive wins after a wretched start but top-of-the-table Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra maintained their position with a comfortable 3-0 away win over Chittagong Abahani also on the same day.

Russel -- on ten points -- are three points ahead of Muktijoddha and struggled in the fourth-round clash on an extremely hard-pitch at the MA Aziz Stadium where the local side enjoyed familiar conditions but slumped to their third defeat.

Moroccan midfielder Ighir Mohamed broke the hour-long deadlock from a penalty before Maksudul Amin Rana consolidated the visitors' lead with a fine strike ten minutes from time. Rashed Ahmed Pappu then sealed Russel's third victory in the dying seconds.

In Dhaka, former national striker Alfaz shrugged off early season sluggishness to drive Muktijoddha to form with three goals after Arman Aziz's opener.

Rahmatganj, playing their home match just after striking a sponsorship deal with Sattar Textiles that could be worth Tk five lakh, came close to open the scoring after 17 minutes but Rizvi's powerful drive from ten yards was tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Titumir.

Muktijoddha, who came to the game on the back of an unimpressive but effective 1-0 win over Mohammedan following a draw and a loss, showed a better level of fitness and took control with lively passing.

Fullback Titu was in superb form at the left side and kept the rival backline under constant threat with his speedy runs but he spoiled a great chance midway through the first half. Chasing a Ghansah through from their own half, Titu poked the ball over the lone keeper from the edge of the penalty area but saw it miss the mark narrowly.

Abu Yusuf's boys finally got the breakthrough in the 28th minute when Arman Aziz scored with a glancing header on a fluke left-flank corner by Titu after Rahmatganj custodian Amjad had mishandled a harmless cross that was going out.

Amjad, however, made a fine save when he punched Moroccan midfielder Brahim's effort over the bar. At the other end, Titumir was also brilliant when he went full stretch to keep out a tremendous low drive by Milon.

Two minutes before the breather, Alfaz took a long through from Ghanaian defender Ghansah but the veteran, who almost lost possession under pressure from an onrushing Amjad and centre-backs Sony and Mahiuddin, recovered well to outsmart the trio and drive the ball into the back of the net.

The Reds were in total control and Alfaz struck his second nine minutes into the second half when he neatly placed the ball overhead Amjad from the top of the penalty box after meeting a defence splitting diagonal pass from Brahim.

Alfaz, who retired from the national team last year, completed his treble with a simple nod after Titu, who switched to the right side minutes earlier, floated a pinpoint cross.

Rahmatganj got their first goal in the competition in the 85th minute when substitute Shoeb mishit a left-wing cross by Babu, allowing the ball to run farther right to Hanif Pradhan who blasted the ball into the roof of the net, giving substitute keeper Himel no chance to react.

The old-Dhaka outfit, who have just one point, got a golden chance to reduce the arrears further but Emrul hit the sidebar from a penalty after Parvez Babu felled Hanif in the 90th minute.

Yellow cards: Parvez (Muktijoddha), Emon (Rahmatganj)

Titumir (Himel), Hassan Al Mamun, Ghansah (Parvez), Deen Mohammed, Titu, Arman Aziz (Biddyut), Brahim, Arman, Matiur Munna, Alfaz and Moni.

Rahmatganj: Amjad, Mahiuddin, Sony, Shipon, Hanif, Babu, Mehedi, Emrul, Emon, Rizvi and Milon (Shoeb).

Referee: Mansur Azad.

Rahmatganj captain Shoaib Hossain Sony wins a tackle against Muktijoddha Sangsad hattrick hero Alfaz Ahmed (R) during their B. League clash at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday. PHOTO: STAR