This article was published in the August issue of Sports Tribune magazine
Following the 11th edition of the top flight football that was groundbreaking in many ways, this writer has rated the performance of the 13 teams.
Bashundhara Kings: 9.5
With a big budget and in their debut premier league season, the Kings couldn’t have expected for more. After bringing in top foreign and local recruits including a Costa Rican World Cupper, all three departments of the squad shone brightly to execute the club’s aspiring plan to offer a different style of football in Bangladesh. Their lone defeat at the end of the long league may give an idea how confidently they secured the title with a couple of games in hand.
The six-time premier league champion perhaps lacked depth in the defence to outrace Bashundhara’s ambitious project, which was quite evident during the defeats in their two league matches against the new champion. They conceded the most goals among the top four clubs but topped the total goals tally by a distinct margin. It should be noted that the Sky Blues were also involved in AFC Cup fixtures where they proved themselves as the top South Asian club, despite an injury-shaken defence throughout the season.
Sheikh Russel: 8.5
The former treble winner exhibited the best defensive display after the Kings and relied mostly on the league’s top scorer, Nigerian striker Raphael Onwrebe for the goals. They couldn’t maintain the same consistency from the first phase of the league to the second half where they conceded three defeats out of four. They are however, the only club in the league who managed to hand a defeat to the top two sides – Bashundhara and Abahani.
Saif Sporting: 8
Having formed a squad full of young promising local players, Saif had a decent season, but their foreign recruits failed to perform upto the mark. They couldn’t utilize all four foreign players throughout the league. The club also failed to avail full advantage of their home ground in Mymensingh where they boast a poorer record compared to their away games.
Arambagh also had a young squad after retaining many of the players from the previous season, which gave them some strength to finish among the top five. They shared the same home ground with Saif and enjoyed a good record there. The club however, couldn’t keep up the consistency in the second phase and also missed the services of one of the key players, captain Rabiul, for some matches in the end.
Sheikh Jamal: 7.5
The last edition’s runners-up couldn’t form a big team like they used to do before and it was perhaps their lowest-budget squad since their arrival in the top-flight. With a poor start, the club saw change in coaches from the first half to the second phase but earned almost equal points in both phases. Lack of quality signings and several injuries were the other reasons behind their lowest-ever finish this season.
With the new date for the players’ transfer window is scheduled for October 1 to November,the 12th edition of the Bangladesh Premier League for 2019-20 season will kick off on January 1 next year.https://t.co/dgVAwsrtTm— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) August 26, 2019
Muktis had a decent start in the league where they finished among the top six after the end of the first phase but stumbled at the latter half of the long league as they were winless in the last five matches. Their foreign signings (Ballo Famoussa) and Asian recruit (Yusuke Kato) clicked well in the team and left notable achievements. They earned the same points at their home ground in Gopalganj and in the away matches.
Chittagong Abahani: 6.5
The port city outfit didn’t recruit the same quality of players like they did in the previous two seasons. The key strength of the club was playing as a team as there was no notable individual performer. They scored almost half of the goals from set-pieces but lacked a bit of creativity in midfield, and couldn’t get the best from either wing.
The Black and Whites experienced one of their poorest starts in top-flight history as they finished the first half of the league in the relegation zone, second-from-bottom, playing majority of those games without a head coach. Under a new British coach, the club scripted a remarkable comeback in the latter stages in the league where they were perhaps one of the top four performing clubs.
The key strength of the Old Dhaka outfit was their young players, most of whom were recruited from the second-tier Bangladesh Championship League. They performed better than their foreign recruits who failed to meet the club’s expectation. Despite having one of the weakest defence lines, there was some life in their games in the attacking half.
Brothers Union: 5
The Gopibagh outfit are not the same club they used to be before, like beating or holding the giant clubs, in spite of forming an average squad. The club struggled terribly in the first phase but managed to earn some crucial points in the latter half to avoid relegation. Yet, it was their lowest league position since the 2012-13 season.
Nofel Sporting: 4.5
Nofel were the only club in the league who didn’t sign four foreign players and their local recruits, with a few exceptions, were also not upto the mark. Some big clubs, including the champion, found it difficult to put up their best display at Shaheed Bulu Stadium in Noakhali but host Nofel failed to take advantage.
BJMC finished the league with nine points behind the other relegated side Nofel, which may give an indication as to how they struggled throughout the season. Their only happy moment was perhaps getting a point against the Kings at home in Noakhali from whence they however, managed only a single win for the remainder of the season.