A red hot Muktijoddha ousted Abahani from the Federation Cup, courtesy a 1-0 win in extra-time, in the fourth quarterfinal at Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Teamwork and finishing made all the difference as Muktijoddha dominated the match through Enamul Haque, Camara Sarba and Fekri Zieada. Abahani sorely missed the services of their Hungarian forward Szabolcs Czorba, who was sidelined due to a knee injury and his vacuum was hardly filled by the others.
Muktijoddha forward Enamul was cursing lady luck in the 35th minute. The ace forward rightly anticipated a back pass of Abahani defender Ariful Islam intended for goalkeeper Ziaur Rahman, kept his cool to go past the onrushing ‘keeper but to his dismay saw the effort hitting the sidepost of an empty net.
Continuing the pressure, Muktijoddha again came close in the 40th minute. Fekri, Muktijoddha’s Egyptian midfielder, unleashed a fierce drive from the edge of the box. However, Abahani netminder Ziaur Rahman punched the ball away to safety.
Abahani’s substitute forward Aminur Rahman Sajib broke through the Muktijoddha defence in the 49th minute but saw his shot rocking the crosspiece. With both the teams concentrating on defence, the rest of the stipulated time hardly produced any notable attacks.
However, the deadlock was finally broken in the fifth minute of the 30-minute extra-time. Former Abahani wing-back Mohiuddin Ibnul Siraji danced down the right flank and curved a low cross to Senegalese forward Camara. The tall forward rose high in the air and sent the ball crashing into the near post net.
Abahani regrouped and piled up some pressure but the equaliser remained a distant dream for the Sky Blues. In the 107th minute, Ariful’s header from a Shakil Ahmed corner was saved from the goalline by defender Anisur Alam Sweet.
Abahani’s dismay continued in the 119th minute, or the penultimate minute, when Nigerian forward Tayo Fabiyi blasted a fierce left-footer which beat Muktijoddha goalie Titumir but rebounded off the crosspiece. Muktijoddha will face Mohammedan in the second semifinal this Monday.