Holders Abahani and Dhaka Mariner Youngs Club emerged as group champions to move into the semifinals of the Khaza Rahmatullah Club Cup hockey tournament after beating their respective rivals in the final group stage matches at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium yesterday.
Abahani notched an emphatic 7-1 win over Sonali Bank to set their semifinal clash against Group B runners-up Victoria SC while Mariner Youngs became Group B champions by handing a 4-0 defeat to Ajax SC. They will play their semifinal against Group A runners-up Sonali Bank.
Both semifinals will be held tomorrow.
The day's second match between Abahani and Sonali Bank was expected to be a mouth-watering clash under floodlights but the Sky Blues dominated the Bankers from the start.
Sonali Bank, who had created a buzz by beating Bangladesh Police 10-0, were surprisingly on the back foot against the Sky Blues, who went two ahead through strikes from Ruman Sarker and Mohammad Mohsin within the first 18 minutes.
Sonali Bank showed some signs of a comeback after pulling back one goal before the break but the 2008 runners-up were dismantled in the second half in the face of huge pressure from Abahani, who added five goals with veteran Musa Mia wrapping up the victory three minutes from time.
Premier league champions Mariner Youngs came into the day's first match on the back of a massive 8-0 win over Victoria SC, but they found the going tough against Ajax despite taking a third-minute lead through defender Farahad Ahmed Shitul's penalty stroke.
Mariner Youngs, comprising of nine national players, launched attacks one after another but failed to penetrate Ajax's solid backline, which finally conceded a second goal one minute into the second half as Hasan Jubair Niloy launched a fierce hit from a Koushik pass. Hasin Arman Rup made it 3-0 in the 56th minute before Shitul ensured the victory by converting a second penalty stroke in the 61st minute.
"Today [Thursday] we were a bit tired and the boys couldn't give one hundred per cent mentally. The boys played the first match accordingly but they did not play well against Ajax," said Mariner Youngs German coach Oliver Kurtz. "I am not happy with their performance. The boys could not avail the penalty corners and we have to work on it. However, we want to play the final after beating whichever rival comes in front of us."