It was former footballer Babu’s first professional title as head coach but for the Sky Blues, there were more occasions to celebrate the title win unlike many of the previous ones
Hundreds of Abahani supporters rushed into the field as soon as the final whistle was heard.
The ecstatic fans started taking selfies with the club’s new signing Kervens Belfort and other local stars but head coach SM Zakaria Babu was in tears in front of the dug-out.
It was former footballer Babu’s first professional title as head coach but for the Sky Blues, there were more occasions to celebrate the title win unlike many of the previous ones.
Along with a hat-trick of titles and sealing qualification for the AFC Cup 2019, the highest six-time professional league champion also beat their traditional arch-rival Mohammedan Sporting Club Limited in the race of winning Federation Cup titles for a record 11 times.
But perhaps, the most relieving and delightful occasion for the Abahani camp was the way their level of performance gradually improved from the first game to the final before beatingBashundhara Kings, the most-discussed side of the season, and also one of the most consistent outfits.
Bashundhara Kings set up a final date with Abahani Limited in the Federation Cup after edging Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra in the second semi-final at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Tuesday, thanks to a last-gasp strike from Towhidul Alam Sabuj.https://t.co/4Le4g1dQU7#BFF— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) November 21, 2018
Bashundhara started the campaign with a 5-2 win over Mohammedan while Abahani’s performance in the group stage was not upto the mark as they conceded defeat against Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra to finish the group stage as the runners-up.
A 95th-minute goal by Belfort rescued them in the quarter-final against Arambagh Krira Sangha before outplaying Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Limited in the last-four with ease like champion.
“These are the tears of joy,” said an emotional Babu after the game.
“I always had faith in my team. There was no special instruction, only not to take any extra pressure. Even after falling behind I told the players during the break to stay calm and keep the belief that we still can win. We proved again what Abahani are capable of.”
Babu couldn’t hide the debate between the local and foreign coaches.
En route to the title, he outwitted Sheikh Jamal’s experienced Nigerian coach Joseph Afusi and former Maldives club’s treble winning Spanish coach Oscar Bruzon in the dugout.
The former Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangsad Krira Chakra and Team BJMC coach added, “It was a challenge for the local coaches (against the arrival of more foreign coaches). We also proved that our local coaches are also capable of winning things.”
Super-sub Sabuz carries Basundhara to final https://t.co/1WdjwNAlsI— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) November 20, 2018
A half-fit Tawhidul Alam #Sabuz came off the bench to steal the show with a 118-minute winner as #BashundharaKings made it to the final of the #FederationCup 2018 after beating #SheikhRussel Krira Chakra 1-0.
Bruzon admitted that his side couldn’t come back to the game after conceding the goal. He however, was confident of the club’s future ahead of the long season.
“Bashundhara have lots of things to say in the rest of the season. We are learning, it’s not possible to gel all the players with time we got. Bashundhara kings will come back soon,” said Bruzon.