Big-budgeted Sheikh Russel KC emerged as Group A champions in the Grameenphone Federation Cup with three successive wins after they handed a 2-0 defeat to Mohammedan SC in their final group match at the Bangabadhu National Stadium yesterday.
On-song striker Zahid Hasan Emily and winger Zahid Hossain struck one goal each in the entertaining clash on the slippery pitch under the floodlights. Mohammedan now finish as Group A runners-up and will possibly face Team BJMC in their quarterfinal match.
Both Sheikh Russel and Mohammedan came into the group-deciding match on the back of two convincing victories against the minnows and the tie turned into a real test for both giants.
Star-studded Sheikh Russel showcased their early dominance as Mohammedan adopted a mostly counter-attacking strategy leaving the opponents with room to penetrate. The tactic was hardly successful and Mohammedan only changed their game plan after conceding two goals inside five minutes in the second half.
From the outset, Sheikh Russel launched attacks with midfielders Mamunul Islam, Moroccan Tarik El Janaby and Haitian Sony Norde dominating the midfield superbly. Zahid, Emily and Sony were denied by Mohammedan goalkeeper Mamun Khan thrice before the Black and Whites mustered their first shot on target in the 35th minute as a header from Kali Osman narrowly missed the target.
After the resumption, Sheikh Russel kept the momentum with them and went ahead in the 47th minute, availing a defensive lapse as Zahid snatched the ball from Kali Osman to strike a grounder that found the far side of the net.
Emily then made sure of the points as he struck his fifth goal of the tournament on 51 minutes. Put through by the Haitian Sony, Zahid hammered a powerful left-footed curler from outside the box that found the back of the net via the inside of the post.
Sony should have made it 3-0 for Sheikh Russel but the attacking midfielder failed to beat Mohammedan goalkeeper Mamun Khan in one-on-one situation while a powerful Shohel Rana shot was parried by Sheikh Russel goalkeeper Biplob Bhattacharjee in the 78th minute.
Meanwhile, in the first match at the BNS, Brothers Union kept their quarterfinal hopes alive with a 2-0 win over Jessore DFA while Bangladesh Police and Rampur Boys Club of Feni ended their campaign with a 1-1 draw at the Birshreshtha Shaheed Mostafa Kamal Stadium.
Brothers Union now need a draw against already-through Abahani in their last match to ensure their last eight berth.
After being held in the first half, Brothers Union, who had earlier played out a goalless draw against Rahmatganj MFS, sent on Abul Malek in place of Subair Mohammad in the second half to strengthen the attack.
The striker of National U-19 squad put an immediate impact on the game through his speed. He finally broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute after placing a Mohammad Any cut-back home while another U-19 player, Yousuf Sifat, wrapped up the victory eight minutes from time.
At Kamalapur, ten-man Bangladesh Police came from behind to play a 1-1 draw with Rampur Boys Club. Aminul cancelled Polash's 16-minute lead in the 60th minute despite being reduced to ten men when Rashidul was sent off in the 30th minute. Both of Police and Rampur Boys lost to Sheikh Russel KC and Moha-mmedan SC in their first two matches.