Holders Abahani regained the lead in the Grameenphone Bangladesh Premier League by defeating Feni Soccer Club 3-2 at the Bhasa Shaheed Salam Stadium in Feni as the second leg of the league kicked off after an eight-day gap yesterday. Former champions Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club, who had the chance to snatch the lead later, had to settle for a 0-0 against Team BJMC at the Bangabadhu National Stadium.
The sixth win in nine matches put Abahani on 20 points, one ahead of Sheikh Russel KC and Sheikh Jamal DC. Sheikh Russel, who have played a match less than both Abahani and Sheikh Jamal, can regain the lead when they take on Team BJMC on February 3.
Four-time champions Abahani took just two minutes to gain the lead against strugglers Feni Soccer when Ghanaian forward Awudu Ibrahim fired home a cross from Atiqur Rahman Mishu. However, the champions had to wait for another 45 minutes to double the lead. The second goal came when Ibrahim snatched the ball from a Feni defender to set up his compatriot Twum Frank, who put the ball into the open net. Abahani took a stranglehold on the game through a tap-in from in-form striker Shakhawat Hossain Rony, who took his tally to five goals.
Feni Soccer though made a game of it by scoring two goals within 10 minutes. New-signings Ariful Haque Saikat and Anthony Pele of Liberia scored in the 63rd and 73rd minutes respectively to set up an exciting final quarter. The defending champions though held their nerves to eke out a valuable win. The defeat kept Feni Soccer firmly at the basement with just three points from nine outings.
Here at the Bangabandhu National Stadium, Sheikh Jamal, the only unbeaten side in the league, faced some stiff resistance from Team BJMC, a side they had defeated 3-2 in the first leg. Sheikh Jamal survived a close call on the half-hour mark when Eleta Kingsley played a low cross for unmarked Nigerian Abdul Rasheed and local Toklish Ahmed, but neither of the strikers could make contact with the ball.
The rest of the match belonged to Sheikh Jamal as they kept creating chances and kept spurning those chances. First it was Sohel Rana who headed wide from a close range on the stroke of half time before Yeamin Munna's 25-yard effort missed the target the target.
Substitute Towhidul Alam Sabuz then squandered an easy chance in the 63rd minute as the unmarked hitman took the ball on his left foot instead of having a go at the first time. The split second allowed BJMC players to block the backline and his left-footer went miles off target.
Defender Kesto Kumar then rescued BJMC by clearing off the line a deflected header from a Raihan Hasan throw-in in the 70th minute. BJMC held their fort for the rest of the time as Sheikh Jamal had to be content with a third draw in nine matches.