A brace from Gambian forward Sainev Bojang steered Sheikh Jamal DC into the semifinals of the Walton Federation Cup with a commanding 2-0 win over Saif Sporting Club in the second quarterfinal at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Bojang, who was denied a contract last season due to being underage, stole the show after failing to score in the first three matches of group stage. Bojang's compatriot and national U-19 teammate Solomon King was behind both the goals.
“I'm really happy to score both goals after failing to get any in the first three matches. [Cristiano] Rolando did not get any goals in his first three matches for Juventus, but he started scoring after that. I must thank my teammates, coaching staff and team management who encouraged me a lot,” said the 19-year-old forward.
Sheikh Jamal came into the quarterfinal on the back of successive draws against Bashundhara Kings and Mohammedan, but they looked motivated against Saif, who stormed into the quarterfinals by inflicting a 5-0 defeat on Brothers Union and were expecting to qualify for the AFC Cup by winning the Federation Cup.
The charges of Joseph Afusi continued their well-organised performance as Solomon King, who had scored the decisive goal against Mohammedan SC in last year's Federation Cup quarterfinal, displayed superb performance to set up both goals for Bojang after having scored two goals in two group-stage matches.
“Solomon is a great player who I know very well because we played together for Gambia national [U-19] team. So, we have a good understanding upfront and I always pass the ball to Solomon If have the ball,” said Bojang.
Saif SC, on the other hand, failed to replicate their performance of the group-stages. Without English coach Stuart Hall, Saif SC enjoyed possession of the ball but hardly penetrated the Sheikh Jamal defence. They mustered a couple of shots on target and found the back of the net once.
Solomon brilliantly put a long ball from his own half for Bojang, who chested down to enter the box before placing it past Saif SC goalkeeper Ziaur Rahman Zia in the 29th minute. The Gambian came close to doubling the lead but he failed to beat Zia in a one-on-one situation.
Saif survived a scare on the hour-mark before Colombian Cordoba Escarpeta levelled the margin with a powerful shot from 25 yards in the 71st minute.
Sheikh Jamal, however, took only five minutes to restore the lead as Solomon ran down the left flank to whip in a cross for unmarked Bojang, who headed home after goalkeeper Zia and defender Yeasin Arafat failed to stop the cross.
Three-time champions Sheikh Jamal will play 10-time champions Abahani in the last-four battle.