The biggest achievement in the history of football in Bangladesh is winning the title of SAF Football Championship. Bangladesh won the South Asian Football Championship for the first and last time under Austrian coach George Kotan in 2003. Hasan Al Mamun-Aminul-Sujan-Alfazra entertained the spectators at Bangabandhu National Stadium on that cold January evening by defeating Maldives 5-3 in a tiebreaker despite a 1-1 draw in the final.
16 years ago, Bangladesh reached the final of the SAF without one of the best players of the team, captain Rajni Kant Barman. He was banned in the final with two yellow cards. Rajini managed to get the defense book of Bangladesh team in the whole tournament. Not getting him in the final was a big shock. Shortly before the start of the final against the Maldives, Rajini wept as he handed over the captain’s armband right back to Hassan Al Mamun at the hotel. He said, “Friend, I could not, I handed over the burden of the country to you.”
Seeing Rajini’s tears, her teammates had tears in their eyes that day. Shortly before the final, the confidence of some of the teams did not crack but it turned into strength. I swear that was hidden in those tears. Everyone had a jaw-dropping promise to win. The title came to the fore in 2003 after everyone fought shoulder to shoulder. So far, Safe is the only title in Bangladesh.
George Kotan played the team in a 5-3-2 formation in the final that day. Three center-backs Mohammad Sujan, Nazrul Islam and Hasan Al Mamun in front of Aminul Haque in the goal. Right wing back Feroz Mahmud Hossain Titu and left wing back Mostafa Anwar Parvez. Arif Khan Joy, Matiur Munna and Arman Mia in midfield. Alfaz Ahmed and Roknuzzaman Kanchan pair in the attack.
Another SAF Championship is starting in Maldives from today. Bangladesh has not seen the title for 17 years. For 13 years (the last four events) Bangladesh could not overcome the obstacles of the group stage. Standing at a time without success in football, reminiscing about the past is the only hope. Dear reader, let’s take a look at how the 11 stars of the Bangladesh team are today, where they are, what they are doing in the final of the SAF Championship 17 years ago …
He is called one of the best goalkeepers in the history of Bangladesh football. He scored only two goals in the entire tournament in 2003. This star goalkeeper is currently engaged in politics. He is in central charge of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). He is currently the member secretary of the party’s Dhaka Metropolitan North.
This defender is with football even if he puts on a pair of boots. The center-back, who played for Abahani Limited most of his career, is currently the assistant coach of Abahani. Apart from football, he is also involved in the garment business in his district Narayanganj.
Hassan Al Mamun
The defender led the Bangladesh team to the final in the absence of regular captain Rajini Kant Varman. He came to coaching after retiring from the game in 2016. After starting his coaching career with the assistant coach of Chittagong Abahani, Sheikh Jamal is currently acting as the assistant coach of Dhanmondi Club.
The tall defender won the match by tying the ball in the net in the last shot after a 1-1 draw in a tiebreaker. He is a bit far from football. He has a market in his district Narayanganj. Besides visiting shops, he is also doing business.
Firoz Mahmud Hossain Titu
This right-back with great speed retired from football in 2012. He is currently the General Secretary of the Board of Trustees of Prime University. He is also involved in politics. At the moment he is a member of the Awami League’s youth and sports sub-committee. There is also involvement with football. He is also the manager of Uttara Club, the vice-president of Bangladesh Championship League team.