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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Compiled by SDNP

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Nitol-Tata National Football League
Abahani breeze into Super Six

Abahani became the first team to reach the Super Six phase of the 4th Nitol-Tata National Football League when they handed Chittagong Mo-hammedan Sp-orting Club a 2-0 defeat at the Khulna Stadium yesterday.

Defender Shawkat Khan put the popular sky blues ahead at the stroke of the breather to the delight of the capacity crowd while striker Saiful Islam Khokon sealed the victory in the second half. The win enabled Abahani to maintain their unbeaten run.

With four straight victories, Abahani lead Group A with maximum 12 points and their first phase campaign will end with the mouth-watering clash against holders Muktijoddha Sangsad (nine points from three games) in Chittagong on August 18.

The celebrated Dhanmondi outfit, champions of the first version of the tournament, dominated the match against the Chittagong team but had to wait to find the net after.

Khokon came close in the 20th minute but his right-footer from a Ujjal header went inches wide of the target while Nayan's long-range effort rebounded off the crosspiece soon after.

But finally, Shawkat relieved the title aspirants when the tall defender leapt in the air to nod home a Masud Rana corner in the dying seconds of the first half.

Abahani looked more organised in the second half and doubled the lead in the 55th minute when Khokon scored his fourth goa in the competitionl. His close-range header on a corner from captain Rakib was half-stopped by substitute goalkeeper Titu but it rolled over the line before the custodian could make a second attempt.

Playing without prolific Nige-rian forward Colly Barnes, banned for one match, Abahani had more chances to widen the margin but Khokon spoiled some good opportunities including a one-to-one chance from handshaking distance.

It was Chittagong Mohamme-dan's second defeat in three matches and they were left with just one point.

Yellow cards: Shawkat (Abahani) and Sharif (Chittagong Moha-mmedan)

ABAHANI: Nizam (Munna), Siraji, Hasan, Shawkat, Masud Rana, Parvez (Faisal), Joy, Nayan, Rakib (Pranotosh), Uzzal and Khokon.

CHITTAGONG MOHAMMEDAN: Raju (Titu), Shafiqul Islam, Ramjan (Apu), Dulal, Prodip, Israfil, Arman Aziz, Zahid, Sharif (Nejamat), Johny and Yousuf.

Referee: Mansoor Azad

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