The Club Cup Hockey Tournament, named after the late Khwaja Rahmatullah, got underway after a two-year gap at Maulana Bhasani National Hockey Stadium Monday with title favourites Abahani Limited and Mariner Youngs Club beginning their campaign with comfortable wins on the opening day.
Holder Abahani were off to a thrashing 7-1 victory over Police Sporting Club in the inaugural game before Premier Division League winner Mariner outplayed Victoria Sporting Club 8-0 in the day's second match, which was played under the floodlights for the first time in a domestic competition.
Young striker Mohammad Mohsin opened the scoring for Abahani in the second minute in what was the game’s first attack before Roman Sarkar doubled the lead in the 24th minute. Mohsin scored another in the 42nd minute while Taher Ali also netted a brace, in the 27th and 60th minute. Krishna Kumar and Ashraful Islam added one each in the 44th and 48th minute respectively, both goals coming from penalty corners. Mahfuzur Rahman scored the consolation for Police in the 55th minute.
After the game, Abahani head coach Mahbub Harun said, "We had only three days of preparation while our BKSP players are having their HSC exams due to which we only get them on the match-days. The team will get better once the young and experienced players combine together.”
The Sky Blues have some of the most experienced campaigners in the team, including Musa Mia and Shahidullah Khokon, who also coached a premier division club last season. Monday, they had four young players from BKSP, and among them, Mohsin is a Grade 12 student.
Mohsin, who played for Mariner last season, was a happy man after scoring the tournament's first goal. He said, "I scored 10 goals in this event last season. There were some mistakes but overall, it was a good match. It will boost my confidence ahead of the U-16 Youth Olympics in Argentina, starting with the game against Cambodia on April 25."
In the day's other game, Mariner, inspired by the recently appointed German head coach Oliver Kurtz, dominated Victoria throughout the game. National forwards Hasan Jubair Niloy scored a brace (9', 68') while Mamunur Rahman Chayan (15'), Mainur Islam Kaushik (18'), Hasin Arman Rup (26'), Pushkor Khisa Mimo (36'), Nayeem Uddin (55’) and Farhad Ahmed Shitul (64') added one each.
The tournament is named after former national player and hockey federation's general secretary Rahmatullah, who breathed his last in October last year. Nadira Rahmatullah, wife of Rahmatullah, inaugurated the event as the chief guest. Nadira urged the clubs to bring back the unity in hockey. She said, "I would be happier if every club take part in the event. I request all the clubs to overcome the ego, forget the bitter past and get united again for the betterment of the country's hockey."
Meanwhile, the tournament is being held after two years with the number of participating teams reduced to only six, split into two groups. Two hockey giants - Mohammedan Sporting Club Limited and Usha Krira Chakra - withdrew their names citing lack of preparation, along with Azad Sporting Club, Wanderers, Bangladesh Sporting Club and Sadharan Bima.
(Mohsin 2, 42, Roman 24, Taher 27, 60, Krishna 44, Ashraful 48) 1 Police SC
(Niloy 9, 68, Chayan 15, Kaushik 18, Hasin 26, Mimo 36, Nayeem 55, Shitul 64) 0 Victoria SC