The new football season has started today with the Independence Cup. Sheikh Russell Sports Club started the tournament by defeating North Baridhara 1-0 at Kamalapur Shaheed Sepahi Mostafa Kamal Stadium. The match winning goal was scored by Mannaf Rabbi.
Sheikh Russell Sports Club has formed a strong team this time. Ismail Gonsalves (Isma), a Guinean Bissau and Portugal forward with joint citizenship along with two Brazilian forwards Thiago Amaral and Elton Machado, has been picked by the treble winners of the 2012–13 season. Kyrgyzstan national team defender Aizar Akmatov in the Asian quota.
Among the locals are forward Saduddin from Abahani, left back Rahmat Mia from Saif Sporting and midfielder Manik Hossain from Chittagong Abahani.
The team was waiting to see how the season started. Despite getting a relatively weak team like North Baridhara, the team was disappointed in the first match.
However, it is difficult to judge the strength of the team on the bad turf of Kamalapur Stadium. However, the way Sheikh Russell struggled to win the match against Baridhara without three foreign players, the supporters of the team should be apprehensive. Mohammad Jewel and Mannaf Rabbi wasted an easy chance to score even though they got the goalkeeper alone. Elton Machado could not keep the ball head to head from the goal. However, Baridhara goalkeeper Saiful Islam also stood in front of them.
Amaral was not due to injury. Sheikh Russell coach Saiful Bari has named Brazil’s Machado as the second striker, giving Isma the main striker who played three matches for Portugal’s U-16 team in a 4–2–3–1 formation in the first half. They recognized themselves in the crowd of three center-backs in Baridhara, but could do nothing extra for the team. In the 14th minute, Machado could not put the ball in the post by heading from the goal from Saad Uddin’s free kick. He also missed a goal towards the end of the match.
However, before going to the break, Machado put the ball in front of Mannaf’s face like a spoon in the defensive pass. Mannaf could not do the job even though he got the goalkeeper alone. Goalkeeper Saiful made the task of Mannaf difficult by leaving the post and coming to the ball line and making the space smaller.
Earlier in the 33rd minute, Jewel wasted an easy opportunity near him. Mannaf’s cross from the right edge of the unprotected Jewel can only touch the foot properly goal. Jewel, who was inducted into the national team this year, could not put his foot down properly.
The first half ended with a goal miss practice. Russell formed Isma and Machado 4–4–2 in the second half. This increases their pressure on the opponent. Mannaf opened the scoring in the 57th minute with the help of midfielders Hemant Vincent and Ismar Rasayan. In the autumn wind from midfield, Isma lifted Aguan over the goalkeeper’s head with the first touch from outside the box. Mannaf scored the goal in the last minute by tapping from the goal line.
Baridhara goalkeeper gave a great save to Mannaf in the next minute. Sheikh Russell could not increase the gap as he wasted more scoring chances towards the end. Of course, being able to leave the field with a victory in the end is a relief for them.