Reigning champion Dhaka Abahani Limited made a last-ditch attempt to bring in Gambian midfielder Landing Darboe on the deadline day of the transfer window for the Bangladesh Premier League season 2016-17 on Sunday.
After five clubs completed their players’ registration earlier in the day, the remaining seven premier league clubs – Abahani, Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club, Arambagh Krira Sangha, Rahmatganj Muslim Friends Society, Farashganj Sporting Club, Team BJMC and Brothers Union – concluded their formality on the deadline day.
Only Arambagh came to the BFF House with the players while other clubs sent officials.
Landing, who has been a prolific midfielder in the country’s top-flight in the last few seasons, was the surprise signing on the deadline day. Landing started out with Feni Soccer Club before joining Sheikh Jamal where he scored and assisted countless goals.
Landing was Abahani’s second foreign signing following the recruit of Nigerian forward Emeka Darlington. Emeka and Landing are Abahani’s replacements for English midfielder Lee Andrew Tuck and Welsh forward Jonathan David Brown respectively. The duo were the Dhanmondi outfit's architects behind their premier league and Federation Cup triumphs.
Among foreign players from last season, only Samad Yussif stayed with the club.
The Sky Blues lost almost half of their starting XI players after the end of last season, including defenders Topu Barman and Ariful Islam, midfielders Hemanta Vincent Biswas, Shakil Ahmed and Jewel Rana. Abahani however, managed to get decent replacements by signing national players – Yeamin Munna, Rayhan Hasan, Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, Sohel Rana and Rubel Mia from Chittagong Abahani. The Sky Blues also brought in Imtiaz Sultan Jitu and Didarul Islam.
Since their entry to the professional league, former champion Sheikh Jamal have always formed their squad with established foreign attackers but this season they signed three foreigners out of the 34-man squad. The Blue and Yellows have also roped in head coach Joseph Afusi.
Sheikh Jamal formed their squad with youngsters from last season, especially from Rahmatganj. They retained seven players from last season’s squad.
Arambagh were the first team to come to the federation on Sunday with the players and officials and submitted a list of 35 players. Led by experienced head coach, Maruful Haque, the Motijheel-based outfit also formed a youth-based squad with a budget of around Tk three crores.
Rahmatganj, who finished top after the first phase of the league last season, saw 14 of their players leaving the club for bigger teams. Head coach Kamal Babu didn’t seem all that confident like last season but stated that they are looking to create surprises once again. Ten players were retained from last season. They brought in five players from the relegated Soccer Club, striker Ismael Bangoura from Mohammedan Sporting Club Limited and Monday Osagie, who was at Sheikh Jamal two seasons ago. They submitted a list of 29 players.