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Maruful sets new example for other clubs

  • Published at 11:13 pm October 19th, 2018
Maruful Haque

Maruful Haque set the target for his disciples to improve their league position of eighth place from last season in the 12-team points table

Arambagh Krira Sangha and their experienced head coach Maruful Haque wants to set an example for the other premier league clubs, especially for the low-budget outfit, by keeping almost half of the players from the previous squad in order to get the best out of the upcoming season.

The Motijheel outfit, the champion of the last professional tournament, the Independence Cup in February this year, kept around 15 players from last season’s squad, including three young players from their U-18 squad while very few other low-budget clubs reached double figure.

It has become a trend in the country’s domestic football scenario that the top-flight clubs fail to keep most of their members and coaching staffs from the previous season, losing key players to the clubs with bigger budget. 

One of the exceptions is Abahani Limited, the most successful club in the arena who have been maintaining the consistency of not following the trend.

This season however, Arambagh made an exception, thanks to the country’s only Uefa-A licensed coach Maruful, who threw down a condition to his players and the management to allow him the opportunity to work with the same group of players for two consecutive seasons.

“I want to see what happens if the majority of the players stay at the same club for two consecutive seasons. I’m pretty sure it would improve not only the performance of the team but also the individuals. They will be more concentrated and the efficiency would also increase. I want to set this example for the other clubs,” said Maruful to Dhaka Tribune Wednesday.

Arambagh though failed to retain last season’s captain Mahbubur Rahman Sufil, who continued his fine form in the national Olympic team and the senior side, and moved to big-spending, newly-promoted Bashundhara Kings. 

But one of the other top performers from last season, Rabiul Hasan decided to stay back to help in his coach’s new journey, along with defender Mohammad Rockey and midfielders Shariar Bappy and Sumon Ali.  

Among the foreign recruits, only defender Nkurumeh Kingsley remained in the squad from last season while Maruful brought in another defender, Boboxonov Iqbalion from Uzbekistan in the Asian quota. 

Both are centrebacks and likely to give the side more strength in defence. 

The new signings of experienced winger Zahid Hossain and young forward Sarwar Zaman Nipu may fill the vacancy left by the departure of Sufil. 

The team are now training at Buet field after holding a 28-day training camp in Mymensingh.

Zahid told Dhaka Tribune, “I’ve never seen so many players remain at the same club. If you look at the other clubs abroad, they usually make three-four replacements for the outgoing players, they don’t change their whole squad. It would only benefit the clubs and players if they stay at the same club for a longer time.”

Maruful set the target for his disciples to improve their league position of eighth place from last season in the 12-team points table.

Last time Maruful stayed at the same club for two consecutive seasons was five years ago at Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra when the club clinched the historic treble in his second term. 

There were not enough changes in the squad members in between the two seasons.

This season, among the 13 clubs, seven-time professional league champion Abahani have the highest number of players [18] from the previous squad. Four players from last season, including key midfielder Emon Mahmud and defender Nasiruddin Chowdhury [Bashundhara Kings] left the club while the club made only one local recruit in Mamunul Islam, along with three new foreign recruits. 

Four members made it from the club’s U-18 squad.

Once traditional powerhouse, Mohammedan Sporting Club Limited kept 13 players from the last season, former champion Sheikh Russel and Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club retained 11 and 10 players respectively. 

The number is below the double figure among the lower-budget clubs as Team BJMC and Rahmatganj Muslim Friends Society kept only five and four players respectively. 

Even former Independence Cup winner Chittagong Abahani have only four players from last season.

With the exception of Nofel Sporting Club, all the other teams have retained one foreign player from last season, alongside recruiting three foreign booters.

Giving the players and coaches the contracts for only a single year also became a trend in domestic football, which makes it difficult for the mediocre clubs to keep their top performers for consecutive seasons. 

Saif Sporting Club recently bucked the trend by giving some of their young players long-term contracts last season.

Sheikh Jamal’s head coach Joseph Afusi left the same club and re-joined again, for three times since 2012. 

The Nigerian coach told Dhaka Tribune, “I understand Bangladesh standard very well. The standard is to sign players and give them to the coach to work. Every year I get a list, and I get to work with the new players. I don’t make choices.”