Abahani Limited emerged as the champions of the Federation Cup for the ninth time as they edged past Arambagh Krira Sangha 1-0 in the grand finale at Bangabandhu National Stadium on Monday.
Having just returned from injury, English playmaker Lee Andrew Tuck netted the all-important goal in the first half which was enough for the Sky Blues, who largely controlled the game.
The triumph drew an end to the wait of the Dhanmondi outfit as the four-time professional league champions last won a silverware back in the 2010-11 season.
It was a tough pill to swallow for Arambagh as they reached the final of the tournament after a long 15-year hiatus but failed to overcome the final obstacle once again. They still remain trophyless in the history of professional domestic football. The Motijheel outfit couldn't produce the required performance to get back to the game and break a solid Abahani defence. And thus, their fairytale run had to come to a sudden halt.
Abahani were better in possession and dominated the midfield throughout the game. The early lead gave them more confidence and the experience of losing the season opening Independence Cup final against Chiitagong Abahani in April this year also made the Abahani players more aware of the occasion.
George Kottan made two changes to the squad that beat Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra in the semi-final. Tuck was fit to start, replacing Shahedul Alam Shahed, while Nabib Newaj Jibon returned to the starting XI in place of the in-form Senegalese forward Camara Sarba.
The Sky Blues put pressure on the opponents from the very beginning of the game and they could have broken the deadlock in the seventh minute but were denied by two brilliant saves by Arambagh goalkeeper Mitul Hasan.
Nigerian striker Sunday Chizoba’s initial effort was blocked by Mitul and the Arambagh custodian made another superb save to deny Jewel Rana's header on the rebound.
Tuck gave Abahani the breakthrough four minutes later as his left-footed shot from the edge of the box hit the back of the net following a pass from national striker Jibon.
Arambagh, who came from behind twice earlier in the tournament including the semi-final against Team BJMC couldn't repeat the heroics yesterday against a solid Abahani backline.
They however, did try to stage a comeback in the second half and six minutes after resumption, Jafar Iqbal broke into the left flank of the penalty area and took a powerful shot, only to see the effort fisted away to safety by Abahani netminder Shahidul Alam Sohel.