Rising powerhouse Chittagong Abahani Limited reached the grand finale of the season opening Walton Federation Cup 2017 after edging Old Dhaka outfit Rahmatganj Muslim Friends Society in the first semi-final at Bangabandhu National Stadium on Friday.
National midfielder Mamunul Islam netted the all-important goal early in the first half, which was enough for the port-city club to secure the vital win but they did face strong resistance from the opposition as Rahmatganj heaped continuous pressure on Chittagong Abahani in the late stages of the game.
It was probably the first time Chittagong Abahani reached the final of the Federation Cup. Backed by big-budget sponsors, they appeared a strong side from last season, winning the Independence Cup for the first time in history.
Mamunul put Chittagong Abahani ahead with only eight minutes into the clock, slotting home a cutback from Nigerian forward Afeez Olawale Oladipo after a lovely cross by winger Zahid Hossain from the right flank.
Rahmatganj forward Rashedul Islam Shuvo missed a great chance to equalise in the 19th minute as he shot wide off the post following a one-on-one situation with Chittagong Abahani goalkeeper Mohammad Nehal.
Kamal Babu’s Rahmatganj side looked more determined after resumption and came up with more organised attacks. But the Chittagong Abahani defence, led admirably by Nigerian defender Mufta Lawal, remained solid.
The final half-hour was all about Rahmatganj piling pressure on the opponent's terrain. They went close to bringing parity in the 67th minute. A precise through pass by midfielder Mohammad Saddam made Faysal Ahmed break into the penalty area but his shot was saved by Nehal.
The old Dhaka outfit made a couple of quick attacks a minute later. Nehal rescued his side once again after punching away Ismael Bangoura’s powerful strike for the cost of a corner.
Three minutes before the end of stipulated time, Nehal parried a powerful Helal shot from the top of the box but managed to grab the ball later before Shuvo reached for the rebound. There was heavy rainfall during the extra five minutes of injury time.
In Saturday's second semi-final, Dhaka Abahani Limited will face Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club at the same venue at 7:15pm.
The final will take place at BNS on Monday.
Ctg Abahani 1
(Mamunul 8) 0 Rahmatganj
Abahani v Jamal, BNS, 7:15pm