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Football season kicks off with Fed Cup Wednesday

  • Published at 08:26 pm December 17th, 2019
Abahani players during training in Dhanmondi Dhaka Tribune

With the aim of retaining the title, holder and six-time top-flight league champion Abahani Limited will take on newly promoted Bangladesh Police Football Club in the Group A opener at 4pm

The new domestic football season is all set to roll on the pitch with the kick-off of the TVS Federation Cup 2019 at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Wednesday.

With the aim of retaining the title, holder and six-time top-flight league champion Abahani Limited will take on newly promoted Bangladesh Police Football Club in the Group A opener at 4pm. 

New powerhouse Bashundhara Kings, who begin their campaign against Brothers Union Thursday, will be the other favorite. 

It was only the Federation Cup that they couldn’t lift last season as they won the prestigious Bangladesh Premier League and Independence Cup in their debut season.

Taking lessons from last season, both the Sky Blues and the Kings strengthened their defence during the transfer window. 

Big-spending Kings roped in national defender Tapu Barman and defensive midfielder Atiqur Rahman Fahad from Abahani, who filled the vacancy with the signing of Brazilian defender Mailson Alves and Sheikh Russel KC midfielder Mohammad Sohel Rana.

Despite having most of the national team members and quality foreign recruits, Bashundhara couldn’t perform upto the mark in the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup where Abahani withdrew their participation.

“We have collected excellent players and built up a competitive and balanced squad in order to be title contender in every competition we play,” Bashundhara’s Spanish head coach Oscar Bruzon Tuesday. 

There is not likely to be any major changes in the starting XI of Abahani from the end of last season, with the exception of Mailson in the heart of the back-four. 

Nigerian striker Sunday Chizoba and Haitian winger Kervens Belfort will be seen upfront together again along with national striker Nabib Newaj Jibon.

“I’m expecting better from last season. We’ve done some mistakes last season, so we try to correct them and be better this season. I’m confident,” said Abahani’s Portuguese head coach Mario Lemos.

Abahani’s first official opponent, Police FC, are a new face in the premier league arena. 

They earned promotion after winning the second-tier Bangladesh Championship League, and appointed Cyprus tactician Nikola Vitorovice early in the pre-season.

“We took good preparation with a balanced team. We tried to know where we lacked, playing seven practice matches against BPL clubs like Chittagong Abahani Ltd, Saif Sporting Club, Sheikh Russel, Bangladesh Muktijoddha SKC. Target is good performance and that’s what we want to start from the first match,” said Police team manager Sheikh Maruf Hasan.

Sheikh Russel and Chittagong Abahani are also contenders for the curtain-raising tournament, guided by two experienced local coaches Saiful Bari Titu and Maruful Haque respectively. 

Bangla TV will telecast all the matches live.

New law changes in Fed Cup

The International Football Association Board approved some changes with regards to the laws of the game for 2019/20 after two years of worldwide experiments, and these will be introduced in Bangladesh with the Federation Cup.    

1)    The introduction of yellow and red cards for misconduct by team officials.    

2)    A player who is substituted must leave the field at the nearest point of the boundary line.

3)    At a goal kick and a free kick for the defending team in their own penalty area, the ball is in play as soon as the kick is taken (it can be played before it leaves the penalty area).    

Other changes include: clearer wording for “handball”, attacking team players must be at least 1m away from a defensive “wall”, the goalkeeper only has to have one foot on the goal line at a penalty kick, and a new dropped ball procedure (including a dropped ball being awarded if the ball hits a match official and goes into the goal, team possession changes or a promising attack starts).