Soon after the presentation ceremony was over following the enthralling Federation Cup final in Cumilla yesterday, Mohammedan captain Souleymane Diabate ran up the stairs with two trophies in his hands — one for the top-scorer and another for the player of the tournament — as well as a crest for becoming the most valuable player of the final. He entered the locker room, where the Mohammedan players were rejoicing after a thrilling victory against their bitter rivals, Abahani.
The Mali man remained motionless and unlocked his phone so that he could have a video conference with his family. After scoring four goals in regular and extra time, he remained unfazed and unwilling to get carried away by the enthusiasm that was all around him. He exemplified the attitude he had displayed when he calmly completed his penalty kick in the penalty shootout after scoring four goals in both regulation and extra time.
Even though Diabate has been playing football in Bangladesh for the past five years, he does not receive nearly as much attention for his work as other international players, such as Robson Robinho and Daniel Colindres, who have been in the country for longer. But he didn’t seem to mind that he wasn’t in the spotlight; instead, he seemed delighted with what he and his team had just accomplished.
As he stood there with the trophies in his hands, Diabate told the press, “This is a special moment for me because it is the first time in my career that I have scored four goals in a final.” “Not only me, but all of the players (deserve credit for this victory.”
The forward, who is 32 years old and has dedicated this achievement to his family, stated that if the proper management is in place, this squad will only continue to become better. “I believe that if we keep these players next season, this will be a very strong team (in the league),” Diabate added.
The sentiments of the forward were repeated by the coach, Alfaz Ahmed, who had taken over the Black and Whites’ coaching duties in the middle of the season. At the time, the Black and Whites were struggling closer to the bottom of the league standings.
“Diabate played tremendous football. Muzaffarov played with a broken hand. Everyone gave their all today, and the commitment they showed was extraordinary,” the former national striker remarked. “Everyone gave their all today and it was extraordinary.”
“The adjustments that I made at half-time turned the game around,” said Alfaz, who hoped that this victory would begin the club’s rebirth. “The changes that I made at half-time turned the game around.”
The opponent of Alfaz, Mario Lemos, who had never lost a final in Bangladesh before, attributed their setback on their players’ lack of energy at the beginning of the second half of the game.
“We were so slow and played with such low intensity that we allowed Mohammedan to come back into the game. When you give confidence to these players, it’s very difficult,” the Portuguese said, adding that he took the blame for enduring a first trophyless season at Abahani and, as a result, for failing to secure a spot in the AFC Cup. He also took responsibility for failing to secure a spot in the AFC Cup.