Mohammedan Sporting Club lifted the Dhaka Bank Club Cup Hockey tournament trophy after they beat Usha Krira Chakra 4-2 in darkness, confusion and farce at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium yesterday. The match started some 80 minutes after schedule due to a huge disagreement between the two teams regarding a foreign player recruited by Mohammedan without having him properly registered.
The match was only the tip of the iceberg as the events preceding it only added to the sense of farce surrounding it.
The chaos started when Mohammedan brought Malaysian forward Chua Boon Huat for the Club Cup final.
He arrived in the capital early on Friday morning, though the Black and Whites' team management did not officially inform the tournament committee. Usha officials verbally let the tournament committee know that they had serious objections if Mohammedan fielded an unregistered foreign player in the final.
It all boiled over half-an-hour before the start of the scheduled match at 4:00pm when Mohammedan attempted to play the Malaysian in the final citing the tournament committee's verbal assurance. They claimed that the committee had no problem to allow their foreign recruit to play the game.
But, tournament and league committee secretary Anvir Adel had declined to let Mohammedan's foreign player play as the Usha officials asked the committee to follow the by-laws which states that each team will be able to field five foreign players in a match but they must be registered by 8:00pm the day before the match along with Tk 500 as registration fee.
The Motijheel giants then argued that they were not given the by-laws, which was not even approved by the tournament committee, and they looked determined to play with their Malaysian recruit.
"As an experienced organiser, I have brought the Malaysian player knowing the rules of the tournament and would not bring him if I was not aware of the rules," Mohammedan hockey committee secretary Sajed AA Adel said.
"By-laws of the tournament was not even approved," added Adel, also a former general secretary of the Bangladesh Hockey Federation (BHF).
Tournament committee secretary Anvir Adel having denied Sajed's demand said that the representatives of the participating clubs had signed the by-laws and later he showed it to the reporters. He also raised the question of how a tournament can go up to the final without the by-laws being approved.
Anvir also declined to give Mohammedan verbal assurance saying: "I told them that they could field the foreign players if the by-laws permitted them."
However the statement was over when BHF president Air Marshal SM Ziaur Rahman came down to the field to request Sajed to start the game within a few minutes as the chief guest Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith was on his way to the stadium.
The game got underway at 5:20pm with both captains taking part in the toss and moments later, Usha Krira Chakra protested fielding the Malaysian player.
Usha general secretary Abdur Rashid Shikdar convinced his boys to play under protest.
"We have already filed a complaint against Mohammedan for fielding an unregistered foreigner and the league committee will decide it," said Shikdar adding that they had played the final for the greater interest of the game and did not want to disappoint a 2000-strong crowd.
The match was an entertaining one for the 55 minutes of play when bad light brought an early finish to the game, that had a frantic pace about it from the very beginning. Usha started the match brightly and made a potent attack in the first minute while on the counter Mohammedan earned a penalty corner.
Those early attacks suggested it would be a game full of goals and it turned out to be so.
It took nine minutes for Usha to take the lead, with skipper Maksud Alam Habul deflecting a goal-ward shot from Krishna Kumar.
However it didn't take the Motijheel giants long to equalise. From Musa Mia's penalty corner, Mamunur Rahman Chayan slotted the ball at the back of the net. A few minutes later, Mohammedan took the lead through an opportunistic goal from Ariful Haque Prince. As Rajon's original shot was half-saved by the goalkeeper Mahbubullah, Prince pounced on it and pushed the ball home to make it 2-1.
But Usha were not to give in so easily as they came back in the game in the twentieth minute, courtesy of a penalty corner taken by Sheikh Mohammad Nannu, and converted by Mostafizur Rahman.
The see-saw nature of the game then took a vital turn as Mohammedan restored their lead with virtually the last shot of the half, ironically from their Malaysian recruit Chua Boon Huat who had been at the centre of controversy that surrounded the game. It was a beautiful field goal, as the Malaysian took a powerful reverse hit from inside the box after being set up by Sabbir Hossain.
After the breather, Usha stepped up the pace in search of another equaliser and they came close to scoring on two occasions. But against the tempo of the game, it was Mohammedan who scored on the 47th minute through Rahul Kanti Roy. It was probably the best goal of the match as Rahul deflected a fierce shot from outside the box from Chayan into the empty net.
At 4-2, Mohammedan held the match and slowed the pace while the Usha players did all the running in fading light for the rest of the game, that was brought to an premature end 15 minutes from time. Mohammedan players ran into muted celebrations while the Usha players showed their sportsmanship to come out and take their fans' plaudits.
But it was hardly an ideal end to the beginning of a new season which was supposed to give local hockey a headstart after two lean seasons when clubs found very little activities on the field.