Bangladesh Youth Games: Russel inspires Sylhet to boys’ football final

Sylhet’s hat-trick hero Russel Ahmed

Desk Report: Sylhet might a face tougher battle in the final against Rajshahi, who staged a dramatic comeback against a strong Rangpur side in the other semi-final

Football had the most number of participants in the district and divisional rounds of the first-ever Bangladesh Youth Games and the game is the only discipline out of 21 that had to kick off its fixtures three days before the official inauguration of the final round.

Two hundred and seventy male and female footballers from 15 divisional teams came to Dhaka to prove their worth in the final stage of the mega event.

All the football matches are taking place on the artificial turf of Kamalapur Stadium and for the majority of the players, it was the first time playing on the turf for full 90 minutes.

Juvenile Sylhet forward Russel Ahmed netted an opportunist treble as they stunned Dhaka 5-1, enjoying a goal-spree in extra time against the 10-man home side to reach the final of the boys’ football event.

Sylhet’s Wednesday’s final opponent will be another surprise – the Rajshahi divisional team, who notched a dominant 2-1 win over Rangpur in the day’s other semi-final at Birsreshtha Shaheed Sepahi Mustafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur in the afternoon.

The first semi-final was going neck and neck, tied at 1-1, until Dhaka were reduced to 10 men in the second half.

The 30-minute extra time under sunny weather appeared too much for the home side as Russel took full advantage of the less-protected defence by scoring a brilliant hat-trick to secure the final berth in style.

The Sylhet divisional team are combined of players from three districts, including Moulvi Bazar and Habiganj, but most of the players are based in Sylhet. Their two players – Akash and Runi Haider – represented the national age-group team before while three players – Russel, Nishad and Rayhan – joined Mohammedan U-18 team.

Four players played in the third division last time around, informed Sylhet head coach Jahan-e-Alam Nury Rahel, who is undertaking his AFC A license course at BFF simultaneously.

Majority of the Sylhet players represented their division in a couple of age-level tournaments in recent times but were ruled out from the last-four stage on each occasion. Source: Dhaka Tribune

Also read: PM Hasina inaugurates Bangladesh Youth Games 2018

As the former BFF academy forward, Russel said after the game, “We were left heartbroken after semi-final defeats in two previous tournaments, despite playing well. The delight doubled because we also broke the curse of not reaching the final.”

Sylhet might a face tougher battle in the final against Rajshahi, who staged a dramatic comeback against a strong Rangpur side in the other semi-final.

Mirajul Islam put Rangpur ahead in the 13th minute before Sakib and Pias netted one each in the added time of first and second half respectively to ensure the final spot.

Dominated by Rajshani district players, their divisional squad are combined of players from Natore and Sirajganj districts as well.

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