Bangladesh Premier League champion Abahani Limited began their journey towards the treble with a comfortable 2-0 win over Team BJMC in their first match of the Independence Cup at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Wednesday.
National striker Nabib Newaj Jibon put the six-time professional league champion ahead within the half-hour mark, which was enough for a solid Abahani defence to register their 14th clean-sheet this season. Atiqur Rahman Fahad sealed victory seven minutes before the end of stipulated time.
Having been placed in Group C, Abahani will take on Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra in their second and last group game Thursday but their quarter-final spot could be confirmed before that, if, Sheikh Russel win or draw against BJMC Friday.
It was BJMC who went close to scoring in the 14th minute when veteran defender Mamun Mia’s headed-clearance from Abdullah al Parvez's free-kick hit the woodwork.
Jibon gave the Sky Blues the lead in the 24th minute when his glancing header from the six-yard box following a long throw-in by Rayhan Hasan gave BJMC goalkeeper Arifuzzaman Himel no chance.
Young midfielder Fahad doubled the lead in the 83rd minute, firing home with a right-footed strike from 20 yards after Rubel Miah set him up with a cutback from the right side of the box.
Meanwhile in the day's other match at the same venue, Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club and Mohammedan Sporting Club Limited played out a 1-1 draw in the first game of Group A. Forward Nurul Absar put the Dhanmondi outfit ahead in the 36th minute, capitalising on a silly blunder by Mohammedan keeper Rasel Mahmud Liton. Experienced striker Jahid Hasan Ameli netted his second goal of the season to equalise in the 57th minute, heading home from a curved free kick by Mithun Chowdhury.
(Jibon 30, Fahad 83) 0 BJMC
Sk Jamal 1
(Nurul 36) 1 Mohammedan
Saif Sporting v Arambagh, 3:30pm
Farashganj v Muktijoddha, 5:45pm
Both the games will be held at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka