Chittagong Sonali Otit Club emerged as the champion in the Veterans Cup Tournament 2018 beating Dhaka Sonali Otit Club Red in the tie-breaker at the artificial turf of the BFF House. The match ended 2-2 after regulation time and later, Chittagong edged Dhaka 4-3 in the penalty shootout. The tournament was a memorable occasion for the former and legendary players of Bangladesh.
In the sideline of the tournament, former Bangladesh footballer Sheikh Mohammad Aslam gave an exclusive interview to Ali Shahriyar Bappa of Dhaka Tribune. Here are the excerpts:
How much did you enjoy the Veterans Cup?
Really enjoyed it. The national footballers should have come here and seen us play in the Veterans Cup. They should have seen the passing, heading, movement, positioning of these legendary footballers. They should have seen how we used to play in our playing days. Through this Sonali Otit Club, we will go to the districts and try to teach the young generation about good football and as former players we will monitor it.
Do you play football now?
No, I usually play tennis these days.
Too much money is involved in football these days, compared to your times. What is your take on this?
There is a word by Mostofa Ali, that is, excessive money is the reason for destruction. Excessive money can cause harm to our football. And often, this excessive money is being given to non-deserving players. I can say it’s unjustified. A player should have self assessment as to how much money he is worth.
How does one become a good striker?
Becoming a striker is like a religious ritual for me. As Muslims, we pray five times daily. Similarly, a striker should follow some rules like rituals. A striker has to spend plenty of time in the field with the ball. A player can never become a good striker or footballer if he can’t give extra effort in training and field. Facebooking and chatting won’t help you in the field. You must work hard in training and give extra effort in the game.
What are the lackings you have noticed in the current generation strikers?
As a striker, there are some particular movements in the striking zone. Not everyone knows it. But if you want to become a good striker, you have to learn that well. Maybe strikers of this generation do not know properly about these movements. A striker needs to shoot in order to score from long range. I scored from the centre during my time. But now this kind of courage is absent in the national strikers.
Did you know?
“If you see carefully, you will notice that a rickshaw puller has really strong thigh muscles. So I used to drive rickshaw in my off season to strengthen my thigh muscles.”
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Chittagong players celebrate with the champion's trophy after winning the Veterans Cup Tournament 2018 DHAKA TRIBUNE/Mehedi Hasan
RESULTS, DAY 1
Dhaka (Red) 1 0 Chandpur
Dhaka (Green) 1 0 Jessore
Sylhet 2 0 Khulna
Dhaka (Red) 1 1 Barisal
Chittagong 3 3 Manikganj
Sylhet 0 1 Narayanganj
Dhaka (Green) 5 0 Rangpur
Chittagong 2 0 United Kingdom
RESULTS, DAY 2
Barisal 2 2 Chandpur
Rangpur 1 1 Jessore
UK 0 0 Manijganj
Narayanganj 1 2 Khulna
Dhaka Green 1 (Arman) 2 Chittagong (Mintoo, Firoz)
Dhaka Red 2 (Aslam, Hiru) 0 Khulna
Chittagong 2 (Ferdous 31, 40) 2 Dhaka Red (Aslam 12, Hiru 27)
Chittagong won 4-3 on penalties
MVP Of The Tournament:
Mohammad Aslam (Dhaka Red)
Ferdous, 5 goals (Chittagong)
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Former Bangladesh footballer Alfaz Ahmed rolls back the years DHAKA TRIBUNE/Md Manik
WHAT THEY SAID
Arman Mia, Dhaka Green
It’s a great tournament. This time, it has been held in Dhaka. I believe such tournament is needed regularly. This tournament is like a get together for veteran players who have crossed 45-50 years of age. We become nostalgic by playing this tournament.
Babu, Dhaka Red captain
After forming the Sonali Otit Club, we had a target of forming Sonali Otit Club branch in every district of Bangladesh with former professional football players. Through this tournament all the legendary players met each other after ages. We can also share our thoughts and planning for the development of Bangladesh football. I participated this year despite being 64 years of age and the feelings of “footballer Babu” still excite me. And such feeling has been revived a little bit by this tournament.
Jamrul, Chittagong captain
We played in the 1970s, 80s. Now Bangladesh football is passing a difficult time. Football passed its golden time in the 90s. We hope that golden time will be back again. It’s a get together for us and all the players are playing under the Sonali Otit Club banner. We have really enjoyed it. Doesn’t matter who won and became champion or who became runners-up. It’s a great get together for us.
Ferdous Hasan, Chittagong (Top-scorer)
Last time, we hosted the tournament in Chittagong but failed to win the trophy. This time, we have won the cup and obviously it’s a great feeling. I want to remember one name Mushi [Salam] bhai, who died in the field while practising for the club in Chittagong. We are also dedicating this championship to legendary footballer Ashish Bhadra, who was also from Chittagong. I believe Ashish Bhadra was one of the best players not only in Bangladesh, but throughout the whole Saff region.
We, the former players, have played together in various parts of Bangladesh. Now many of us have no contact for so many years. So this tournament is a get together for us. It’s a great initiative. I am feeling nostalgic and remembering my good old playing days.
Satyajit Das Rupu
Almost 250 former players participated in this Veterans Cup. It seems like we have returned to our playing days. Initially we tried to arrange the tournament at Bangabandhu National Stadium. But BFF is reconstructing the field for the AFC Cup. So we have arranged it in the astro turf. Anyways, we really enjoyed it.
Alfaz Ahmed, Dhaka Green
I retired a few years ago. Now I am an old person. But football excites me. I feel extreme excitement whenever I get chance to play football in the field. This tournament is a chance to play in the field again and I am really enjoying it.