Mohammedan won their first trophy in nine years after beating archrivals Abahani 4-2 on penalties in the Federation Cup final in Cumilla yesterday. Captain Souleymane Diabate led an astonishing comeback for his team, which resulted in a 4-4 draw in normal and extra time. Mohammedan then won the title by beating Abahani 4-2 on penalties.
The attacker from Mali scored a record-tying four goals in the championship match, and then he coolly converted the first penalty kick to put the Black and Whites on the road to victory as the Motijheel-based club won their first Federation Cup since 2009.
The final was played between the two most illustrious outfits in the country, and the drama and excitement of the final, which was reminiscent of Argentina’s victory over France in the FIFA World Cup final in Qatar six months ago, more than paid dividends to the more than 10,000 people who had braved the scorching heat and turned up at the Shaheed Dhirendranath Dutta Stadium.
Diabate delivered a performance that was above that of a mere mortal, bringing his team back into contention each time it appeared like Abahani had grabbed control of the game. It is yet unclear as to whether or not this will serve as a resurgence for the Black and Whites, who have already had a sort of mini-revival under coach Alfaz Ahmed. However, the entertainment and competitiveness offered by a somewhat unfancied Mohammedan undoubtedly provides optimism for the future.
Diabate had entered the game as a co-leader in scoring for the competition, but it did not appear likely that he would add to that total as Abahani headed into half-time with a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Abahani had scored two goals in a row to take a commanding lead. The record 12-time winners took the lead for the first time thanks to a placed shot by Faisal Ahmed Fahim in the 17th minute. Daniel Colindres then doubled their advantage two minutes before halftime with a beautiful curling attempt from the left side of the box.
At the break for the second half, Alfaz made three replacements, and those adjustments had an immediate effect as the Black and Whites rediscovered some zest in their assaults. After Abahani defender Alamgir Molla’s header, which was supposed to eliminate the danger, fell just near to the Malian striker in the 56th minute, Diabate reduced the deficits with a beautiful side volley to cut the deficit in half.
After that, it took Diabate only five minutes to score the equalizer. He did it by grabbing a glancing header after Sohel had blocked Muzaffarov’s original volley attempt.
Abahani regained their rhythm back in the middle of the field after having their two-goal buffer wiped out in an instant despite the fact that the game extended out at both ends when everything was back up for grabs again.
Emeka Ogbugh’s effort to score after a cross by Rahmat Mia in the 64th minute came dangerously close to hitting the crossbar. Two minutes later, though, Emeka Ogbugh retook the lead for the Sky Blues with a blazing attempt on a rebound after Fahim’s shot.
But Diabate appeared determined not to give up easy, and he engineered another moment of inspiration when he soared above his defender and headed the ball in from Kamrul Islam’s corner in the 83rd minute to force extra time.
Diabate’s fourth goal from the penalty spot was cancelled out by a screamer from Rahmat Mia with two minutes of extra time still to play. Mohammedan goalkeeper Sujon Hossain made two incredible saves before hobbling off the field.
The tireless Diabate went up to take the first penalty kick in the shootout, which boosted the confidence of his teammates. This, in turn, rubbed off on the replacement goalkeeper Ahsan Habib Bipu, who made saves against Colindres and Agusto’s attempts to bring the Black and Whites to the brink of victory.
In spite of the fact that Abahani goalie Shahidul Alam Sohel was able to stop Shahriar Emon’s effort, Mohammedan’s teenage defender Kamrul Islam was successful in converting his team’s fifth penalty kick, preventing the dramatic final from going into sudden death overtime.