Arch rivals Dhaka Abahani Limited and Mohammedan Sporting Club will lock horn in Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League (DPL) clash at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium today.
Though the rivalry seemed to be diminishing with time as MSC fails to keep up with their foe in terms of money and power, still the dual between the two teams always hold a special place in the heart of their followers.Former national pace bowler Manjurul Islam, who played a big part of his life in Mohammedan, have taken the role of head coach of MSC and said that he is looking forward to return something to his old club in the role of the head coach.
“I have played for Mohammedan for fourteen years but for the first time, I’m here (MSC) as a coach and I am looking forward towards it,” said Manju.
“I hope 2019 is going to be a big year for Mohammedan. Mohammedan had not done well, could not compete in the last three or four matches. The tradition of Mohammedan is totally professionalism,” he said.
“If we are able to maintain that professionalism, then it will be different from the last three-four years. It is a good opportunity for me as a coach and the other team members as well,” he said.
“If we look at the last few years, it will be very difficult to say, but if we consider present performance, those who will be good will create better option,” he said.
Manju added that he does not believe other teams have taken the place of the old power house as some of the leading cricketers are still representing the two teams.“I had my debut playing for Mohammedan and after performing in this club. I still believe that you can see the some of the best players are playing in Abahani and Mohammedan,” said Manju.
“I am not saying that the other teams don’t have the good players. Mashrafe Mortaza, Liton Das, Sohag Gazi, Nadif Chowdhury, Rokibul. The other clubs also have players form national team. I think our players need to regain what we have lost,” he said adding he is well aware of his opponent’s strength.
“Tomorrow (today)’s match will not be against a team considered to be a photocopy of the national team rather it will be a just another match of cricket,” he said.
“I don’t want to say, each team has a strategy. The fact that anyone playing or not playing will be decided after observing the conditions. Who will play for the opponent team will reflect their strategy,” he said.
“Our strength lies in playing against teams like Abahani. Looking back will not be good for the team. Our progress graph has been in a upwards motion. Later, it fell down. The match will be a milestone for the whole tournament. That will be a challenge. We have planned it match-by-match. Previous matches will not make any problem,” he added.
Abahani skipper Mossadek Hossain said that he is getting the heat of the big match since arriving at the practice session.
“Actually, after coming to practice in the morning, we felt the same old intensity of a coming Abahani-Mohammedan encounter. Abahani and Mohammedan encounter has always been a very competitive one. Our team is a good team. Mohammedan also has a good team. Though we have lost a game, but our team is in a very good position. We are focusing on the match rather focusing on them,” said Mossadek.
Mossadek believes lack of visitors will hardly have an impact on the outcome of the match.
“The excitement is nowhere near now. Even in our childhood we saw huge crowds during the match between Abahani and Mohammedan. We are used to hearing the stories of how the country split in two as Mohammedan and Abahani locked horns,” Mosaddek said.
“The gallery used to be packed with Abahani and Mohammedan, both teams occupy their own galleries. Now the galleries remain empty. In my career I have never seen packed gallery during the match between those two sides,” he said.
“But we are professional cricketers. We can’t focus on the presence of the spectators in the gallery, we only can focus on our cricket. We want a competitive match so that people can enjoy. Hopefully we will put on a good performance,” concluded Mosaddek