Aside from keeping a fine defensive record, Russel’s main concern this season has become their lack of goals
Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra will be looking forward to improve the finishing skills while Brothers Union are determined to carry on their fine form when the two sides face each other in the first semifinal of the Walton Independence Cup at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Wednesday at 4.30pm.
Securing the final spot would be a big boost for either side ahead of the Bangladesh Premier League next month, unlike Thursday’s two giant semifinalists – Abahani and Bashundhara Kings – who earlier featured in the curtain raiser Federation Cup final last month.
Aside from keeping a fine defensive record, Russel’s main concern this season has become their lack of goals. Brazilian striker Alex Rafael Antonio and Uzbek midfielder Alisher Azizov scored a couple of goals in the last-eight stage after finishing the group stage without scoring a single goal, while also conceding none.
The Gopibagh outfit, on the other hand, made a remarkable comeback from their group campaign under the guidance of veteran Indian coach Syed Naeemuddin, who rejoined the Oranges prior to the ongoing tournament, beating holders Arambagh KS in a nail-biting quarterfinal.
Despite overcoming the group of death, Sheikh Russel head coach Saiful Bari Titu showed no intention of taking Brothers lightly. “It will be tough game because they (Brothers) have nothing to lose. We have the focus and concentration on the right way after facing three tough opponents so far. The main thing is that we have weakness in scoring – we want to overcome it and get the goals like we did in the last match.”
Brothers manager Amer Khan reminded that they only had a weeklong pre-season camp before the Federation Cup but he was determined to take the recently-found form to a new height. “After holding Abahani in the last group match and beating last-time champions Arambagh inspired the players. Credits to the coach as well but it will be the strategy for both coaches and how the players implement it would decide tomorrow’s (Wednesday) winner.”
There will be no major absence in Russel’s squad but Brothers will miss the service of their Panamese forward Jack Daniels Agullar due to suspension. Shofiqul Islam Shafi is likely to take Jack’s crucial role up front.
Meanwhile, Brothers never reached the final of a professional tournament since their title winning campaign in 2005 but they reached the semifinals in the same competition four years ago. Russel also failed to make it to the finals since the historic treble winning campaign in 2012-13.
Bangladesh Television (BTV) will telecast both semfinals live.