• Wednesday, Jun 19, 2019
  • Last Update : 02:18 am

Local football quality increasing but crowd interest still missing

  • Published at 10:17 pm December 24th, 2018
Football
There is a diverse presence of foreign and local players this season but that could not attract crowds to Dhaka’s main venue, the Bangabandhu National Stadium Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

The two professional tournaments so far have produced some dramatic encounters with the presence of a record number of foreign players, and putting the doubts behind, the local footballers also carried on their fine form from the national team, except the strikers

The Bangladesh Premier League 2018-19 season will be kicking off next month.

The two professional tournaments so far have produced some dramatic encounters with the presence of a record number of foreign players, and putting the doubts behind, the local footballers also carried on their fine form from the national team, except the strikers.

This season saw a total of 51 foreign players from 20 countries and five continents make regular appearances for their respective club, and there were concerns about its impact on the local booters, but the majority of the national players from the latest Bangabandhu Gold Cup and Saff Championship squads also enjoyed a lot of playing time when fit.

The performance of national goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and wingers have been up to the mark so far, but the tendency of the strikers to struggle getting goals remains a concern.

Mahbubur Rahman Sufil was one of the top performers up front during the Asian Games and Saff Championship where he played mainly as centre forward, but the striker had to try his luck with a new role at right-back for Bashundhara Kings. 

Sufil also got his chance as a forward, but is yet to open his scoring account.

Nabib Newaj Jibon shone bright during the Bangabandhu Gold Cup, but the striker struggled to get a regular starting XI berth in the presence of Sunday Chizoba and Kervens Belfort. 

Abahani Limited’s young forward Saad Uddin remained sidelined due to injury, while experienced striker Towhidul Alam Sabuj proved his worth when he got a chance in the Federation Cup before being suspended.

Apart from another Bashundhara suspension, Sushanta Tripura, Abahani’s injured Atiqur Rahman Fahad and Mamunul Islam, the other national booters made regular starting appearances for their respective sides. 

Some caught the attention for consistent performances, like Rabiul Hasan, Masuk Mia Jony, Bishwanath Ghosh, Sohel Rana, Biplo Ahmed and the latest being goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico.

Mahbubur Hossain Roksy worked as the national assistant coach for most of Jamie Day’s tenure at the U-23 and national team, before joining Bashundhara as one of the assistants for Spanish coach Oscar Bruzon prior to the Bangabandhu Gold Cup.

Roksy told Dhaka Tribune, “The national players I worked with have been performing well so far. Jony is one of the best performers, Rabiul, Arifur, Zico were exceptional (for Arambagh Krira Sangha), Rahmat [Mia], Biplo, Bishwanath and Badshah (Tutul Hossain) are performing very well. The players’ fitness has improved and the competitiveness has also increased with more quality coaches and foreign players.”

Arambagh head coach Maruful Haque said, “There are more foreign players, but their quality is also better this time, like [Daniel] Colindres and Sunday. We experienced some good games so far. The local footballers have lots to learn from them if they want to cash in, during the practice and matches.”

Arambagh and their local recruits also caught the attention of national team head coach Day, who is currently on vacation in England. 

Day mentioned only Arambagh skipper Rabiul’s name when asked about the players who impressed him so far, terming the midfielder as “one for the future”.

A maximum of four foreign players were eligible for club registration with the introduction of one Asian-quota player this season. 

All the 12 premier league clubs, except Nofel Sporting Club, recruited four foreign players each, but it was Nigerian old horse, Sunday, and World Cupper Colindres who earned the most attention. 

The presence of foreign players in defence and midfield also increased more than before.

“I think the usual players (national team) have performed well for the top teams,” said Day about the impact on local booters after the increase of foreign recruits.

“Well, there are advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully our players can learn good habits from them as a positive. But on a negative they are playing in positions our players need to play to improve,” he added.

Meanwhile, along with some nail-biting encounters, some great goals were also seen during the two tournaments, both from the local and foreign players. 

There is a diverse presence of foreign players this season but that could not attract crowds to Dhaka’s main venue, the Bangabandhu National Stadium.

This nagging concern remained despite the increase in competitiveness. 

Will it change when the premier league matches take place in seven different venues next month?