The second edition of Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup will kick off today in Chittagong with the participation of eight teams, including five overseas teams.
FC Alga of Kyrgyzstan will face South Korean fourth-tier club Pocheon Citizen in the opening match while reigning Bangladesh Premier League champions Abahani Limited will take on Maldives’ second division champions TC Sports Club in the other match on the opening day.
The first match of the day will start at 4:00pm, three hours before the next game each day in the group phase.
Bangladesh Television and Maasranga TV will live telecast the matches from the MA Aziz Stadium.
Hosts and defending champions Chittagong Abahani and Dhaka Mohammedan Sporting Club were drawn in Group B with Manang Marshyangdi of Nepal and Shaheen Asamayee FC of Afghanistan.
The invitational tournament created a kind of buzz during its opening edition in 2015, which encouraged the organisers to try and make it a regular fixture.
Though only some low-level club teams agreed to participate, hosts hoped it would help football create some enthusiasm among local fans once again during the coming two weeks.
The participation of two traditional Dhaka giants Abahani and Mohammedan, gave the tournament an added colour.
The tournament is expected to serve as perfect warm-up for fifth time BPL champions Abahani ahead of a busy season when they will not only attempt to defend the their local
league title, but will also represent the country in AFC Cup.
Abahani appointed Serbian born Croatian coach Drago Mamic for the season and he could not have expected a more suitable opponent than Maldives’ TC Sports Club to start his reign.
Mamic spent three long years as Maldives national team coach which gave him some idea about the playing style of local clubs, though he said it would not give his side any competitive edge in the tournament.
‘The teams coming here from other countries all are good teams,’ he said. ‘It will be big challenge for us to represent Bangladesh football and try to compete against them at the same level and try to be a better side.
‘The beginning is very important and we will try to get the best possible result to win the game,’ said the 52-year old coach.
Mamic has full faith on his charges even though he got only 10 days to watch them in training.
‘We are in good shape ahead of the season, which took us in position of achieving our goal, which is reaching the final,’ he said.
Reigning champions Chittagong Abahani will also take the field with full of hope when they begin their campaign against Afghan champions Shaheen Asmayee FC on Sunday.
Ahead of new season, the tournament also provides their new coach Saiful Bari Titu an opportunity to gauge his team’s strength and weakness.
Titu, however, was not satisfied with the preparation of his side due to unavailability of some players.
‘Some of our players were involved with the national team in a conditioning camp in BKSP and a group of players had to play three to four matches for Bangladesh Navy at district level,’ he said.
‘So I did not get the full squad in training. Still I am hopeful we would be able to play with our reputation and achieve our ultimate goal of retaining the title.’
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