Abahani make hay in the eye of the storm
While defending league champions Mohammedan SC and 2016 champions Dhaka Mariner Youngs Club were at loggerheads over the possession of a player -- a dispute that led to the former lodging a complaint at the police station -- four-time champions Abahani were free to complete their players' registration formalities in a calm and festive environment at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium yesterday.
A festive mood enveloped the stadium on the first of the five-day transfer window, which featured movement of familiar faces and new blood for the first time since the 12th Premier Hockey League was held in 2018.
Former national goalkeeper Zahid Hossain came to sign for Shadhara Bima with a big smile on his face, eager to get back with his stick to his treasured blue turf after a long gap. However, he could count himself more fortunate than some others as he played two tournaments in Dhaka and in Rajshahi during this time.
Apart from the sporadic movement of individual players, there was a big rush among the title contenders.
Abahani formed a side that can contest all trophies this season after roping in 18 players, including current national team players Abu Sayeed Nippon, Khorshedur Rahman, Farhad Ahmed Shitul, Rezaul Karim Babu, Rumman Sarkar, Arshad Hossain, Mahabub Hossain, Hasan Jubair Niloy and Pushkor Khisha Mimo.
"We all player are really happy that we will play the Premier Hockey League after three years and we are also happy with our transfers," said Mimo, who returned to Abahani after two seasons away at Usha KC and Mariner Youngs Club.
"It is true that players, especially those outside service teams, have been out of action for a long time. But we are hoping to return to the turf with good practice before the start of the Club Cup.
"Apart from the players' quote [five players from service teams], Abahani roped in a good number of players who are capable of delivering results. I think Abahani formed a champion caliber team and we will fight to regain the title we last won in 2014," added Mimo, who believes Abahani are the best team on paper.
Abahani advisory coach Mahabub Harun added that they had communicated with players from India, Pakistan and Malaysia but their registration would depend on the Covid-19 situation.