Defending champions Bashundhara Kings will try to put their continental woes behind them by securing a final berth in the season’s inaugural competition when they face two-time champions Abahani in the first semifinal of the Independence Cup today.
Kings, the defending Bangladesh Premier League winners, were knocked from the AFC Cup group stages for the third consecutive season after a contentious loss to Odisha FC in their final group encounter last week. The new powerhouse of Bangladesh football will try to erase that memory as quickly as possible by defeating their main domestic rivals at their home ground, the Bashundhara Kings Arena, with the match starting at 4:00pm.
These two teams have had some heated battles in previous years, and Kings coach Oscar Bruzon was appreciative of his opponent before of the crucial match.
“All of our focus and efforts are already on the domestic season, where we have great enthusiasm in trying to retain the Independence Cup trophy and contest for all of the trophies,” Bruzon told media before his team’s training session yesterday.
“Abahani have reinforced pretty well at different positions and departments, and following their recent performances, they are, as always, serious title contenders and a challenging rival in the semis,” the Spaniard said of Abahani, who last won the trophy in 2021 before losing in the semifinals last season.
Mohammad Ridoy, Abahani’s dependable midfielder, stated that coach Diego Cruciani is driving them against the “best team in the country.”
“The coach always inspires us. He has given us instructions on how to combat Kings. “I believe we can win this game and advance to the final,” Ridoy said to reporters.
Meanwhile, three-time champions Mohammedan will be the favorites, at least on paper, when they meet Rahmatgnaj MFS in the first semifinal, which begins at 1:45pm at Gopalganj’s Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni Stadium.
Mohammedan coach Alfaz Ahmed, who guided the team to its first Federation Cup championship in 14 years last season, believes Rahmatganj deserve to be in the semifinals.
“They have beaten a good team, so they deserve to be here.” But we will give it our all to make it to the final,” Alfaz said, describing the semifinal as a do-or-die situation for both teams.