Newly promoted side Saif Sporting Club Limited completed their local players' registration for the Bangladesh Premier League 2016-17 season, along with Chittagong Abahani and Muktijoddha Sangsad Krira Chakra, at BFF House on Saturday.
Having been established only a year ago in 2016, Saif Sporting will be playing in the top flight for the first time after emerging as the runners-up side in their debut Bangladesh Championship League campaign last season.
Owned by Saif Powertec, a Chittagong-based limited company that also runs premier league powerhouse Chittagong Abahani, Saif Sporting have roped in eight players from reigning top tier champion Dhaka Abahani Limited.
Saif Powertec submitted a list of 27 registered players to BFF in the afternoon, including three foreign footballers. The club also provided seven of their current players - Sazzad, Kabir, Shadin, Saddam, Rafi, Likhon and Rahim – four-year contracts. Pinning down such number of players to long-term contracts is an unusual scene in the country’s domestic football scenario.
The club named former Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club and Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra midfielder Jamal Bhuiyan as the captain. Jamal, the expatriate footballer, signed a 14-month contract with the option of extending the deal.
Saif Sporting are one of the frontrunners as far spending fees is concerned. They spent a handsome amount of money signing players from Dhaka Abahani, including national booters Shakil Ahmed, Hemanta Vincent Biswas, Jewel Rana, Ariful Islam and Topu Barman, who was paid the highest. They also recruited Chittagong Abahani youngster and winger Mohammad Ibrahim and Rahmatganj defender Shawkat Russel.
Saif Sporting's foreign signings include forwards Hember Balencia Olaya and Alvi Fokou Fopa and midfielder Deiner Andress.
[caption id="attachment_60581" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]
Saif Sporting completed their players' registration amid festive mood COURTESY
“We started scouting players from January this year. We analysed the video of the players from last season, monitored them for a while before signing them. We brought in foreign coaches to guide the team. We are very much prepared for our debut season in the league,” said Saif Sporting managing director Nasiruddin Chowdhury on Saturday.
The club enjoyed a month-long pre-season training camp in Kolkata from March 13-April 12 where they played two friendlies against East Bengal youth team. During this time, Serbian coach Nikola Kavazovic's contract was terminated. In his place came Ghanaian-born English coach Kimberley Tyrone Grant. The club are currently training at BKSP.
Among the clubs who completed registration yesterday, only Saif Sporting came to the federation in festive mood, accompanied by their players. Chittagong Abahani registered 28 players, including three foreigners, while Muktijoddha submitted a list of 31 footballers, featuring two foreign booters.
Chittagong Abahani, who clinched their first ever professional title - Independence Cup - last season, lost some of their key players to Dhaka Abahani.
But the port city outfit did bring in Arambagh Krira Sangha's young trio – defender Mansur Amin, and wingers Jafar Iqbal and Mohammad Abdullah. The club are targeting the championship this season.
Muktijoddha though didn’t show big ambitions. Their players' list contained only the nicknames of the players, that too full of spelling mistakes. They finished fifth last season and their target this time is also to finish in the top five.
Sunday is the deadline day for the registration of local players. Mohammedan Sporting Club Limited and Sheikh Russel completed their registration on Thursday while champion Abahani and former champion Sheikh Jamal are expected to show up at BFF House on Sunday.