Liton, the former national keeper, denied Abahani’s reliable attacking duo Belfort and Sunday Chizoba to seal the fate of the game despite Nabib Newaz Jibon, Md Sohel Rana, Nasir Uddin Chowdhury converting their chances
Rahmatganj custodian Rasel Mahmud Liton made a couple of stunning saves in the shootout to send holders Abahani Limited out of the TVS Federation Cup with a 4-3 win in tiebreaker in the first semifinal Monday.
Kervens Belfort struck in the early extra time after the stipulated time ended goalless but the old Dhaka outfits cancelled out the lead with a very late equalizer through substitute Enamul Islam and dispatch the game into the hands of goalkeepers.
Liton, the former national keeper, denied Abahani’s reliable attacking duo Belfort and Sunday Chizoba to seal the fate of the game despite Nabib Newaz Jibon, Md Sohel Rana, Nasir Uddin Chowdhury converting their chances.
Rajmatganj’s Tajikistan center-back Acpopov Asrorov, who scored a cheeky goal in the shootout, was one of the brightest performers of the day. His partnership with Camara Younoussa at the heart of defence made it difficult for misfiring Abahani attackers to break through.
It was Asrorov’s cross that allowed Enamul level the margin with a simple header in the 119th minute punishing a howler of hapless goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel after Belfort’s lethal volley opened the scoring in the 93rd minute.
Earlier, Abahani coach Mario Lemos called back defender Mailson Alves and midfielders Sohel Rana and Edgar Bernhardt into the eleven with Mamunul Islam keeping his place in the defensive midfield but couldn’t find the rhythm like they did in the group stages.
The attacking trio of Sunday Chizoba, Belfort and Nabib Newaz Jibon managed to penetrate Rahmatganj defence in the first 20 minutes. A simple chip would have been enough for Jibon to beat Liton on one-on-one while Sunday scuffed a better chance after Belfort’s cutback set him up unmarked inside the box.
The old Dhaka outfits seemed to have saved their energy for the second half and gave the holders hard time with the time ticking down. Sanoar Hossain’s vigorous left-footer was punched away for corner by Sohel.
Abahani went close twice in the last ten minutes as Jibon’s chip was denied by Liton with a stretched hand before Belfort’s back volley was cleared by Asrorov near goalline despite showing great skill to receive the ball and unleash it.
“We played well and created chances but couldn’t take those. It was unfortunate to concede late goal as Sohel could have done better. Congratulations to Rahmatganj, they fought and run throughout the game.” Abahani coach Lemos said after the game.
Rahmatganj coach Syed Golam Jilani, who looked ecstatic, hailed the valiant effort of his boys. “It was do-or-die match. I told my players nothing to lose but they gave their best. I know Abahani players which helped me to execute the plan.”
Abahani 1 (3) (Belfort 93’) – 1 (4) Rahmatganj (Enamul 119’)
Abahani: Shahidul Alam; Nasir Uddin, Mailson Alves, Rayhan Hasan, Saad Uddin; Mamunul Islam, Sohel Rana (Md Sohel Rana 120’), Edgar Bernhardt (Jewel Rana 116’); Kervens Belfort, Nabib Newaz Jibon, Sunday Chizoba.
Rahmatganj: Rasel Mahmud Liton; Acpopob Asrorov, Camara Younoussa, Mahmudul Hasan Kiron, Nahid Islam; Arafat Hossain, Shahedul Alam (Didarul Alam 66’), Sanoar Hossain (Nadim Mahmud 117’), Shuhel Miah (Enamul Islam 90+’), Momodou Bah; Turaev Akobir.