Newcomer and big-budgeted Saif Sporting Club held reigning champion Dhaka Abahani Limited to a 1-1 draw in the inaugural match of the 2017 Walton Federation Cup at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on Saturday.
Both the sides had to play with 10 men in the first half. As a result, both Saif and Abahani had to rein in their attacking ambitions in order to defend their lines.
In the 13th minute, Abahani skipper Mamun Miah and Saif defender Topu Barman were both sent off after kicking at each other over a tackle.
Two minutes later, Saif’s Colombian forward Valencia Olay brilliantly connected a header from a cross of winger Jewel Rana. But his effort narrowly missed the crosspiece.
Abahani hit back in the 43rd minute and it was young forward Mohammad Saad Uddin who tested Saif goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Ziko with a cracking grounder. Ziko though saved the shot thanks to some quick reflexes.
The deadlock was finally broken by Abahani’s Nigerian forward Emeka Darlington as his header landed in the far post net beating the outstretched hand of Ziko.
However, Saif restored parity in the 69th minute when forward Mohammad Ibrahim kept his cool to flick a neat Jewel cross past Abahani netminder Shahidul Alam Sohel.
Saif dominated the latter parts of the game but Abahani’s defensive approach saw the match end in a draw.
BFF senior vice president Abdus Salam Murshedy inaugurated the tournament as the chief guest while Walton additional director FM Iqbal bin Anwar Don was present as the special guest.
Meanwhile in the other game of the day at the same venue, Team BJMC and Brothers Union played out an identical 1-1 draw.
Abahani 1 Saif 1, Group A
BJMC 1 Brothers 1, Group D
Sheikh Jamal v Farashganj, Group B, 4:30pm, BNS
Chittagong Abahani v Mohammedan, Group C, 6:45pm, BNS