The Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) is slated to begin today at two different venues outside of Dhaka, despite the venue drama.
Following the unavailability of Bangabandhu National Stadium and the unwillingness of participating teams to play on sub-par turf at the Birshreshtha Shaheed Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur, the professional football league’s selection drama over the venues drew alarming attention. The professional league management committee kept changing their decisions time and time again over the past week.
Although six locations were originally planned to host the home-and-away matches, the rapid outbreak of coronavirus caused the management to revise the plan to three venues with no idea of home ground.
Just 48 hours before the league was supposed to begin, the committee decided to cancel Kings’ home site, Bashundhara Kings Arena, leaving only two venues to host league matches. Furthermore, the Bangladesh Archery Federation protested the use of Tongi Stadium without their permission.
Aside from the venue dispute, the 14th edition of the professional football league is expected to be much more competitive, owing to the presence of four to five equal-strength teams, with the lightweights having already demonstrated their prowess in the recently concluded Independence Cup and Federation Cup.
Nonetheless, after failing to defend the Independence Cup and missing the Federation Cup, two-time professional league champions Kings will be hoping to complete a hat-trick of league titles.
The ability of the Kings, who have established their sole supremacy in the domestic circuit by winning five consecutive titles in the last three seasons, is undeniable, but they are dealing with a few injuries worries ahead of the league’s debut.
It’s a matter of time when the BPL is ready to begin and opportunity, stated Kings’ Spanish coach Oscar Bruzon, that Kings will be competing for the 3rd consecutive BPL title and the AFC Cup final stage. Some of their players are still recovering from injuries sustained as a result of the poor turf conditions and ill-advised game schedule at Kamalapur. He commented that they want to maintain their reputation as a unique and appealing club to watch and, ultimately, maintain their winning record.
Six-time professional league champions Abahani, on the other hand, will represent a serious challenge to Kings. The Sky Blues have already proven they are no weaker than Kings by defeating them 3-0 in the final of the Independence Cup, their first victory over them in three years.
Abahani then continued their winning streak in the Federation Cup, winning back-to-back titles, and have set their eyes on a rare triple in a season, which was accomplished by Sheikh Russel KC in 2012-13.
Even while it appears to be a two-team struggle between Kings and Abahani, it wouldn’t be shocking if big-budget Sheikh Russel, Saif SC, and Sheikh Jamal DC enter the race, as none of them were able to display their true strength in the two previous tournaments.
However, lightweights such as Mohammedan SC, Rahmatganj MFS, Swadhinata KS, and Bangladesh Police FC will still be difficult to beat, as they demonstrated their strength in the previous two tournaments. The league will be shorter than last season, giving clubs less room for error.
Furthermore, the league is crucial for national head coach Javier Cabrera, who will be watching every league match intently in order to determine a possible national squad for the FIFA friendlies in March.