With only the third round of the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League having been completed, the 11th edition of the top-tier professional football league has turned into a league of uncertainty for title aspirants as last season's champions Abahani and runners-up Sheikh Jamal have already dropped some valuable points in their first three matches.
Six-time champions Abahani are currently in fifth position on the 13-team table after losing to newcomers and title contenders Bashundhara Kings in the second round while Sheikh Jamal could secure only one point as they sit second from the bottom.
Both teams will look to avoid further slips in a bid to stay in the race as the fourth-round matches get underway at two separate venues today.
Despite a 2-0 win over Muktijoddha Sangsad in their last match, Abahani are expected to face a tough challenge from minnows Rahmatganj MFS, who held Chittagong Abahani and Sheikh Jamal DC in their last two matches, at the Bangabandhu National Stadium today.
The defending champions, however, may take inspiration from the fact that they have not lost against the Old Dhaka outfit in the last seven years since a 0-1 reversal in the second leg of the fourth edition of the league. However, they were held to draws by Rahmatganj twice, including once in the last edition.
Away at the Shaheed Bulu Stadium in Noakhali, Sheikh Jamal will square off against Team BJMC following consecutive defeats against Bashundhara Kings and Muktijoddha Sangsad. The three-time champions are in poor form and will be under some pressure against a side which played out a goalless draw against Chittagong Abahani in their last match.
Sheikh Jamal, however, have not lost to Team BJMC in the last six years since suffering a shock 3-1 defeat during the latter's debut season in 2012. Team BJMC could not repeat the feat in their next 12 meetings with Sheikh Jamal notching eight wins and four draws.
In the fourth round, Sheikh Russel will be in action after getting rest in the third round and they will be looking forward to join leaders Bashundhara Kings by posting a third straight victory while Bashundhara Kings will have a week of rest.
In the 18 completed matches so far, foreign players have stolen the show in front of goal, scoring 27 goals while 11 local players have scored the other 14 goals.
Foreign recruits are pulling their respective sides such as Sheikh Russel, Sheikh Jamal, Chittagong Abahani, Brothers Union, Team BJMC and Muktijoddha Sangsad single-handedly while teams like Abahani, Bashundhara Kings, Mohammedan, Rahmatganj, Saif SC and Arambagh are getting good service from both local and foreign recruits.