Riding on their new foreign attacking duo, big-spending Saif Sporting Club began the second phase of the Bangladesh Premier League with a 2-1 win over reigning champion Dhaka Abahani Limited at Bangabandhu National Stadium Monday.
The most expensive signing in the history of Bangladesh domestic football, Haitian forward Wedson Anselme, and English striker Charlie Sheringham netted for Saif Sporting in the either side of each half while Nigerian forward Sunday Chizoba also shone on his return to the Sky Blues by pulling one back in the 90th minute.
The victory helped the rising premier league powerhouse climb to second place with 25 points from 12 matches while Abahani moved to fourth with a point less. Abahani defeated Saif Sporting 3-2 in the inaugural game of the top-flight league.
Meanwhile, Chittagong Abahani Limited extended their lead at the top of the points table to four after handing bottom-placed Farashganj Sporting Club a 4-0 defeat in the day's second match at the same venue. The port city outfit now have 29 points.
Zahid Hossain put Chittagong Abahani ahead in the fifth minute with a brilliant free-kick before national striker Towhidul Alam Sabuj doubled the lead with an easy tap-in in the 32nd minute.
Defender Mansur Amin extended the lead in the added time of the opening half while Alison Udoka completed the rout, heading home in the 56th minute.
Abahani’s midfield, comprising the likes of Emon Babu and Sohel Rana, struggled in the opening half where they failed to create any notable chances while Wedson's vibrant presence on his club debut, playing behind striker Sheringham, troubled the Abahani defence on quite a few occasions. Sunday, who started upfront behind striker Nabib Newaj Jibon, looked promising but got little support from his teammates.
Wedson put Saif Sporting ahead in the 34th minute from a penalty after Ghanaian veteran defender Samad Yusuf’s right hand blocked Jewel Rana's cross inside the box. The Haitian was substituted in the 62nd minute by Hember Valencia of Colombia.
Abahani looked more organised after resumption and increased ball possession following the substitution of Wedson. Saif Sporting, on the other hand, took off left winger Matin Miah, bringing in defender Shakil Ahmed.
Sheringham scored his first goal in Bangladesh as he doubled the lead in the 80th minute, heading home into the far post following a corner by Jamal Bhuiyan.
The Sky Blues went all out for their first goal and within two minutes, Saif Sporting goalkeeper Pappu Hossain made a lovely save to deny Jibon’s close-range shot from inside the box.
Sunday managed to pull one back in the last minute of stipulated time from a penalty after the Nigerian's shot touched Ariful’s hand. Sunday took a shot straight to the top right corner. Sunday almost equalised in injury time but saw his header from the middle of the box hit the woodwork following Rayhan Hasan's long throw-in.
Saif Sporting 2
(Wedson 34 – P, Sheringham 80) 1 Abahani
(Sunday 90+1 – P)
Ctg Abahani 4
(Zahid 5, Sabuj 32, Amin 45+1, Udoka 56) 0 Farashganj