There were constant eye-catching build-ups and attacks from both the sides
Haitian international Kervens Belfort stole the show with the winner in the dying moments as reigning champion Abahani Limited reached the semi-final of the Walton Federation Cup after beating Arambagh Krira Sangha 3-2 in a nail-biting last-eight thriller at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Thursday.
A spirited Arambagh went ahead twice in the game thanks to in-form midfielder Shahrier Bappy’s goal and assist but two brilliant goals by Nigerian striker Sunday Chizoba and midfielder Sohel Rana cancelled the lead on both occasions before Belfort sealed victory in the 94th minute.
It was perhaps the best match of the tournament so far.
There were constant eye-catching build-ups and attacks from both the sides.
Belfort and Sunday developed a better understanding in between them after playing a couple of matches together in the group stages.
But they often found it hard to break the solid presence of Arambagh’s foreign defending duo Kingsley Chukwudi and Iqbaljon Normatovich.
Day seeks booters home and awayhttps://t.co/1IuS1mlrs4— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) November 7, 2018
Arambagh midfielder Bappy, who scored a brilliant equaliser in the last match, enjoyed fine chemistry with Cameroonian forward Paul Emile, along with the young captain and midfielder Rabiul Hasan.
Bappy gave the Motijheel outfit a stunning lead with only seven minutes into the clock.
Paul Emile chested down Chinedu Mathew’s cross back to Bappy, who fired home from just outside the box.
Superb build-up between Sunday and Belfort earned Abahani the equaliser at the half-hour mark.
Sunday set up Belfort on the left side of the box with a quick touch and Arambagh goalkeeper Himel made a couple of close-range blocks before Sunday finally placed home on the last rebound.
Arambagh went ahead again three minutes later from a penalty.
Bappy exhibited his skill once again to receive a defence-splitting through pass from Emile before being brought down by Sohel.
Iqbaljon came forward to take a successful shot from the spot.
Uzbek defender Iqbaljon also had a fine display at the back as he cleared Sunday’s on-target effort from a yard away of goal-line in the 41st minute.
The Sky Blues brought parity three minutes later when midfielder Sohel Rana’s fierce strike from 20 yards out curved through the top right corner.
The second half was also an even affair.
Former Sierra Leone coach joins Saif Sporting Club https://t.co/XLRRqBEg16— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) November 7, 2018
Rabiul’s curved effort in the 57th minute from outside the box was saved by Sohel with a dive to the near post.
Rubel Mia fired over the bar following a cutback by Sunday in the 77th minute.
Rubel was immediately replaced by national striker Nabib Newaj Jibon.
Four minutes were added to the extra-time as Jibon made an impact at the last moment.
Jibon took a free-kick from which Topu Barman slightly altered the direction with a low header that met Belfort ahead of the offside trap and the Haitian calmly placed into an empty net.
Whether the goal was offside, there were loud protests from the Arambagh dugout and it increased after the final whistle.
Soon it results into a verbal clash between the referees and the Arambagh coaching staffs.
Some supporting staff was seen throwing icebox to the linesmen.
Police had to interrupt on the pitch to cool down the situation, and guarded the referees out of the venue.
Arambagh head coach Maruful Haque denied making any comment on the incident; he rather said it was the game of “experience beating the inexperienced.”
Belfort was a happy man after the game, pulling off his jersey to celebrate the winner.
He admitted that it was the best game he had so far in his new journey, and expressed excitement after getting his first professional goal in Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Limited and Saif Sporting Club will take on each other in the second quarter-final at the same venue Friday evening.
ABAHANI 3 (Sunday 30, Sohel 44, Belfort 90+3) 2 ARAMBAGH (Bappy 7, Iqbaljon 33-P)
Saif Sporting v Sk Jamal
The game will be held at BNS, Dhaka