THE MUCH anticipated Sonali Othith District Cup returned to Tower Hamlets in 2017 and a whole day of entertaining football culminated in Sylhet gaining revenge over Sunamganj after losing the same final to their opponents last year.
The pendulum had swung towards the champions who, despite a weakened defence, hosted a stronger overall squad and were further boosted after beating Sylhet in their earlier group encounter. It was a result which left many a pundit and supporter tipping Sunamganj to retain their crown.
Mamun Chowdhury’s men had other plans, and a clinical finish from the legendary Shazzadur Rahman put Sylhet 1-0 up at a crucial point in the game. Sunamganj had a burst of ten minutes when forays were made towards Helal Uzzaman’s goal area, but the Sylhet rearguard of Mohammed Zakaria, Kamruz Zaman, Repon Chowdhury, Muhammed Nashir and Kamal Chowdhury held strong to ensure the score remained the same at the half time interval.
The second half saw the likes of Shahajan Miah, Aminul Haque and Abdul Hoque forming a barricade in the middle to nullify the Sunamganj attacking threat. With the holders pushing forward for an equaliser Rahman surged through again for Sylhet, and the heralded striker did what he has been doing for decades by slotting in his second.
It was the coup de grace, and with heads and energy levels dropping there was still time for a moment of magic.
Hard running down the channels from striker Aktar Hussain opened up space in the Sunamganj rearguard, and with the champions still pushing forward Rashid Ali fed the nippy Mohibur Rahman. The Shadwell playmaker skipped past two before squaring to Akbal Ahmed who sent an exquisite finish past Makbul Hussain from outside the box. It was a goal worthy of any final and the icing on the cake for Sylhet.
In the post match ceremony joint captains Aminul Haque and Repon Chowdhury lifted the trophy to rapturous applause.
Sylhet manager Mamun Chowdhury MBE praised his team’s character and steel. He said, “Our composure throughout was the difference. We flushed the earlier loss to our opponents out of our system, and the players raised their game to great effect. Our opponents are an excellent side and the manner in which we beat them was very convincing. It’s a great advert for football and our community. This win balances things for now. Well done everybody.”