Sheikh Jamal’s win intensifies BPL’s runners-up race
Three-time league champions Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club returned to winning ways in the Bangladesh Premier League with a hard-fought 2-1 win over a strong Saif Sporting Club at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
With Bashundhara Kings on course to convincingly clinch the title, the race for runners-up had remained wide open and thus the tie was crucial for both teams. In the end, it was Sheikh Jamal who came out victorious, courtesy of strikes from its two foreign recruits – Pa Omar Jobe and Vali Jonov Otabek; and in the process, consolidated their position after the disappointing 1-3 defeat to struggling Arambagh KS in their previous encounter.
After a series of chances for both outfits, Sheikh Jamal finally broke the deadlock from a counter attack during the extra time of first half. Gambian Sulayman Sillah brilliantly released a decisive through-pass for Jobe who smoothly finished the move by sending the ball to the left-hand side of Saif's keeper Shanto.
In the second half, Saif SC managed to level the margin with Nigerian Kenneth Ngwoke converting a spot-kick in the 54th minute before Otabek struck the winner from a free-kick on the edge of the box in the 76th minute.
Sheikh Jamal's 10th victory in 16 matches raised their points tally to 35, one less than second-placed Dhaka Abahani and 14 short of leaders Kings, and with a game in hand in their favour, whereas Saif SC remained glued to the seventh position with 26 points from 17 matches.