The star-studded Bashundhara will now face reigning champions Dhaka Abahani in the final on Friday
A half-fit Tawhidul Alam Sabuz came off the bench to steal the show with a 118-minute winner as Bashundhara Kings made it to the final of the Walton Federation Cup 2018 after beating Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra 1-0 in the second semifinal at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Tuesday.
The star-studded Bashundhara will now face reigning champions Dhaka Abahani in the final on Friday.
It was however the World Cup playing forward Daniel Colindres who set the plot for the late winner. The Costa Rican was closely marked by the Sheikh Russel defence throughout the game. But, in the dying moments of the game he was able to acquire a space in between Russel defenders to fire a shot from 30-yard out that hit the side post. Sabuz was in the right place at the right time to knee home the winner on the rebound.
Sabuz informed after the game that he couldn’t train in the previous two days and was not fully fit to play for 90 minutes after sustaining a thigh injury during training. The national striker replaced midfielder Emon Mahmud in the 70th minute and brought more options in the attacking front.
But Sheikh Russel defenders, led by Nigerian defender Alison Udoka and youngster Bishwanath Ghosh, who kept clean sheets in all of their previous matches, carried their fine form to resist Bashundhara’s attacking threat led by Colindres, Md Ibrahim and Masuk Mia Jony.
Basundhara’s Spanish coach Oscar Bruzon made two changes from his quarter-final winning side as Sushanta Tripura and Alamgir Kabir Rana returned. Rana was very impressive as he excelled in the absence of Kyrgyz midfielder Baktiyar Duishobekov. Meanwhile, Russel coach Saiful Bari Titu brought in Mezbah Uddin to replace Fazley Rabbi in the midfield.
Bashundhara dominated the game from the beginning and was unlucky not to get the goal in the 9th minute despite two great attempts. Russel keeper Ashraful Islam Rana made a brilliant punch to deny Mahbubur Rahman’s initial effort before Udoka made a last-ditch goal-line clearance to deny Jony’s shot on the rebound.
Young winger Matin Mia was unleashed in the 35th minute replacing defender Nurul Faisal but barely penetrated the opponent’s defence until the 85th minute. Receiving a missed pass from Yeamin, Spanish defender Jorge Gotor Blas unleashed a powerful right-footer from the top of the box that hit the woodwork. Sabuz attempted a failed back-volley on the rebound.
Bruzon hailed his side’s consistency after the game and termed Sabuz’s crucial contribution as “lucky for the team”. On the other hand, Titu admitted that his side lacked the urge to win such game against “better opponents”. Both coaches also praised the performance of the local young booters on the pitch.