Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club has recently clinched the title of the 7th edition of Bangladesh Premier League (also known as B-League), which is the country’s premier domestic football tournament.
This is the second time Sheikh Jamal has become B-League champion after clinching the title in their debut season in 2010-11. This term, what is even more important is the dominance with which Sheikh Jamal won the title, ensuring it even two games left in hands.
It might seem encouraging for Bangladesh football that clubs like Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russel are emerging, breaking the years of dominance shown by two big powerhouses: Dhaka Abahani and Mohammedan Sporting.
Champions Sheikh Jamal lost only one of their 27 league games, amassing 64 points with 12 points separating them from runners-up Dhaka Abahani who are the four-time winner of the competition.
On the way to clinching league title, Sheikh Jamal scored a jaw-dropping 78 goals at a scoring rate of 2.88 goals per match.
Despite such dominance, there is little to be pleased with when it comes to the performance of local players. Out of Sheikh Jamal’s 78 league goals, 60 were contributed by their three foreign recruits: Haitian striker Wedson Anseleme and Nigerian striker Emeka Darlington and Wedson’s compatriot Sony Norde.
Wedson scored the league highest 26 goals, just a goal less than Abdus Salam Murshedy’s all-time league record of 27 goals set in 1982.
While foreigners’ goal galore provided the spectators with sheer excitement, the same cannot be said to be about the local players.
Mohammedan’s young striker Wahed Ahmed is the highest scorer among the local strikers with 15 goals to his credit despite playing around 18-19 matches. In an interview with the Daily Prothom-Alo, Wahed called for more opportunities for the local strikers, claiming that the clubs are overly reliant on the foreign players.
When asked about his feeling upon the completion of his debut season in Bangladesh, top scorer Wedson did not hide his frustration at seeing almost empty-gallery during the matches.
This frustration is shared by many football fans of Bangladesh who still dream that football’s glory days would come back one day in Bangladesh. The country still has thousands of football lovers which is in evident during international tournaments like FIFA World Cup and EURO.
Bangladesh cannot become even a South Asian giant overnight. Football federation along with the clubs needs to drive forward with a clear vision and some pragmatic decisions which are to be implemented as effectively as possible.