Domestic football's most expensive player, Haitian Wedson Anselme has been excluded from Saif Sporting Club's final 30-man squad for the AFC Cup 2018 pre-qualifiers due to poor performance. He was replaced by Mohammedan Sporting Club Limited's in-form Nigerian striker Kingsley Chigozie.
Along with Kingsley, the big-spending Saif Sporting recruited eight players from Chittagong Abahani Limited to strengthen their squad for the AFC Cup 2018 qualifiers preliminary stage beginning later this month. The deadline for submitting the 30-man squad was Monday 10pm and Saif Sporting officials were busy finalising the squad right until the final hour.
The club excluded former Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club star Wedson from their foreign players' quota of four, which must include an Asian footballer. Saif Sporting brought back Colombian forward Deiner Cordoba and already have English striker Charlie Sheringham and Uzbekistan midfielder Akhror Umarjonov in their roster.
Wedson joined Saif Sporting for a record salary of $13,000 per month, before the second phase of the Bangladesh Premier League, and Cordoba had to make way for the Haitian due to the three-foreigner in the squad policy. The 31-year old former East Bengal striker managed to find the net on only two occasions out of seven matches in the second leg of the top flight.
When queried the reason behind Wedson's exclusion, Saif Sporting's managing director Nasiruddin Chowdhury said he "failed to fulfill the team's demand", adding that the Haitian's contract will conclude on January 31 this year.
Saif Sporting, formed only 16 months ago, and Chittagong Abahani have the same owner. Saif Sporting have roped in seven players from the port-city outfit for the AFC Cup. Forwards Zahid Hossain, Mohammad Abdullah and Tawhidul Alam Sabuj, midfielders Sohel Rana and Masuk Mia Joni, defenders Nurul Naim Faysal and Sushanta Tripura and goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana are the players who were registered by Saif Sporting for only the AFC Cup. The seven players are eligible to play for Chittagong Abahani in the Independence Cup starting next week.
Following the conclusion of their premier league campaign Thursday, Saif Sporting will begin their preparation for the AFC Cup with a residential training camp in BKSP, starting Tuesday. The club will play their first match of the preliminary stage against TC Sports Club of Maldives at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on January 23 before playing the away match seven days later.
Meanwhile, BPL champion Abahani Limited, who also won the Federation Cup title, will be playing directly in the AFC Cup qualifiers and will have one more month to submit their final squad. Abahani football manager Satyajit Das Rupu told Dhaka Tribune that they will also strengthen the squad before the deadline, including roping in an Asian player.