Reigning premier league champion Dhaka Abahani Limited continued their dominance in the country’s domestic football scenario as the Sky Blues retained the 2017 Walton Federation Cup after beating Chittagong Abahani Limited comfortably by 3-1 in the grand finale at Bangabandhu National Stadium on Tuesday.
Abahani defeated Arambagh Krira Sangha in the final of the last Federation Cup.
Goals from Nabib Newaj Jibon, Emon Mahmud and Emeka Darlington put Abahani in the driving seat position before the break. Alison Udoka's goal in the dying stages of the game proved to be nothing but a mere consolation for Chittagong Abahani.
Equalling the record of arch-rival Mohammedan Sporting Limited Limited, it was the 10th Federation Cup title for the Sky Blues while the Chittagong outfit were making their first ever appearance in the final. The victory also extended Abahani’s unbeaten run across all competitions to 31 matches.
Abahani played three matches this week, including their last group stage match of the 2017 AFC Cup. Croatian head coach Drago Mamic, who expressed concern before the final regarding the fitness of his players due to tight schedule, made only one change to the starting XI that beat Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club in the semi-final. Darlington started ahead of Landing Darboe, partnering with Jibon and Rubel Miah up front.
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Goalmouth action from the finale of the season opening tournament BFF
Coming back to the game, Emon took some time to take control of the midfield against Chittagong Abahani, who had Mamunul Islam at the centre of the park. Jibon started as a lone striker in the last couple of matches but left his position for Darlington and moved to left wing where he looked more energetic, especially in the first hour.
Jibon gave Sky Blues the lead in the 36th minute. The national striker broke into the right side of the penalty area, unleashed a grounder that deflected off a defender before rolling into the net, leaving goalkeeper Mohammad Nehal puzzled.
Jibon troubled the opponent's defence again two minutes later when he delivered a cutback to Emon, whose shot however, went wide. The game was then stopped for around eight minutes due to low voltage of the floodlight.
Emon doubled the lead as soon as the game resumed in injury time with a spectacular volley. A familiar long throw-in from Rayhan Hasan was cleared by a Chittagong Abahani defender before Emon’s precise left-footed volley from outside the box gave Nehal no chance.
Darlington extended the lead only three minutes into the second half, tapping home into the near post following a low cross from Waly Faisal from the left flank.
Abahani got another chance at the hour mark when Nasir Uddin Chowdhury shot over the bar following a Waly cross.
Minutes later, Chittagong Abahani went close to reducing the three-goal lead but Shahidul Alam Sohel made a brilliant double save to deny two promising efforts from Shakhawat Hossain Rony and Towhidul Alam Sabuj. Sohel made another lovely save five minutes later, fisting away a shot from Afeez Oladipo for a corner.
Udoka pulled one back in the 83rd minute from the penalty spot after Jibon brought down the former inside the left edge of the box.
(Jibon 36, Emon 45+1, Emeka 48) 1 Ctg Abahani
(Udoka 83 - P)