Bashundhara crowned new champions
The evening sky was lit with fireworks and the home crowd applauded loudly when the final whistle saw Bashundhara Kings become new Bangladesh Premier League champions with two matches left after a come-from-behind 1-1 draw against Mohammedan SC at the Sheikh Kamal Stadium in Nilphamari yesterday.
From the sidelines, players and officials ran onto the pitch amid the drizzle to embrace the on-field players for clinching the prestigious professional football league title. Clad in special jerseys, the players locked shoulders and started to celebrate the special occasion in the centre of the ground by jumping in the air repeatedly and later posed in front of a banner with ‘Champions’ written in large letters.
Their first draw in 22 matches meant newcomers Bashundhara Kings took an unassailable lead with 59 points, four ahead of nearest rivals and six-time champions Abahani, who have 55 points and one match left. And, they are the second side to clinch the Bangladesh Premier League title in their debut season after Sheikh Jamal DC, who also surprised all to win the professional football league in their debut season in 2010.
Bashundhara Kings could have ensured the league title in the previous match against Sheikh Russel KC in Sylhet with an outright win and they were also prepared to celebrate their triumph but hosts Sheikh Russel KC delayed their party by handing them their first defeat to end their 20-match unbeaten run.
Then, the celebration was delayed once again at their home ground when heavy showers on Wednesday forced their match against Mohammedan SC to be shifted to Thursday. The stage was set for Bashundhara Kings to celebrate the triumph on their home ground as they needed a single point to clinch the title after rivals Abahani played out a 2-2 draw against Chittagong Abahani on Wednesday.
Having resumed the match from where it was stopped on Wednesday, the charges of Spanish coach Oscar Bruzon were on the back foot on the rain-soaked ground as a rejuvenated Mohammedan gave their superior rivals a run for their money with striking pair Toklish Ahmed and Malian Souleymane Diabate threatening Bashundhara with their pace up front on the slippery pitch.
Mohammedan finally broke the deadlock in the 16th minute as Toklish ran down the right flank to enter the box but his angular shot was parried by goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Ziko, who however could not stop the rebounder taken by Souleymane inside the box.
After going down, Bashundhara Kings reground to press hard on Mohammedan with Costa Rican Daniel Colindres, Brazilian Marco Vinicius and Matin Mia keeping Mohammedan defenders on their toes to clear their attempts.
Independence Cup champions Bashundhara finally levelled the margin in the 37th minute when Vinicius rose high to nod a Colindres corner kick home, his 13th league goal. Before the break, Bashundhara Kings also came close twice to taking the lead but the forward misfired.
After resumption, Mohammedan looked more determined to restore the lead but they lost momentum as the match progressed. However, both sides fought equally but could hardly create any notable opportunities. Both outfits looked happy with the results with Bashundhara Kings confirming their maiden tile while Mohammedan SC raised hopes of finishing in the upper half after avoiding relegation.