I-League will be amazing this season: Bangladesh skipper Jamal Bhuyan

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New Delhi, Jan 2 (IANS) Bangladesh skipper Jamal Bhuyan anticipates the I-League, starting on Saturday, will be “amazing” abd fiercely-contested.

“I would urge every supporter to follow the I-League from the get-go on January 9. It’s going to be amazing this year,” 30-year-old defensive midfielder said in a freewheeling AIFF TV interview.

Bhuyan, who earlier had a professional stint with FC Copenhagen, has inked a contract with the century-old Kolkata outfit Mohammedan Sporting Club ahead of the upcoming I-League.

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“I researched about Mohammedan SC and realised the stature and the legacy of the club. I came to know about their rich history. I spoke with our national team assistant coach Stuart Watkiss and he informed me about the stature of the club and their reputation in India. Then, I made my decision,” he stated.

After winning the I-League Qualifiers in October, the Black Panthers have been promoted to the I-League after six years and they are already being seen as one of the title contenders.

Bhuyan, who is fondly referred to as JB6 by the supporters, felt this is “not normal” and a “huge thing” for the club.

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“Mohammedan Sporting Club have earned promotion to the Hero I-League after a long gap and people have already started talking about winning the title. That’s not normal to see a newly-promoted team to be seen as the title contenders. It’s huge!” he quipped.

Moreover, he mentioned that winning the I-League is something that they are eyeing now in the long run. But initially, they would focus on one match at a time before targeting to lift the coveted silverware in Kolkata.

“My new year resolution is to win our first match in I-League against Sudeva Delhi FC on January 9. To be realistic, we’ll take one match at a time. The more the games go on, the more I can say about winning the title. After 10 matches, we may have a fair idea about our position. Our ultimate goal is to win the league,” the Denmark-born defensive midfielder stated.

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“I’ve looked at the other teams, but haven’t gone through them and don’t know much about them. Many of the clubs have recruited new players. In two-three weeks, we will have a clearer vision about players and teams,” he added.

Mohammedan SC general secretary Wasim Akram mentioned that Bhuyan’s inclusion will play a stellar role for the Black Panthers in the league and the Bangladesh captain echoed that he will take the challenge “head-on” and play his part to prove his worth.

“Those are some really big words from Wasim bhai. It’s my job to prove that I’m a champion and Mohammedan didn’t make a mistake by bringing me here. As a footballer, we have to deal with different kinds of pressure but it’s healthy. I will take this challenge head-on and do my best.”

He further mentioned the cultural similarities between Kolkata and Dhaka, and said that he is happy that the league is being hosted in the capital city of West Bengal.

“I am happy that it’s happening in Kolkata, which is closer to Dhaka. Our language is the same and I can connect easily. I feel at home here as there’s hardly a cultural difference between Kolkata and Dhaka. Food, language, people all are pretty identical,” Bhuyan smiled.

Mohammedan SC are scheduled to lock horns with debutants Sudeva Delhi FC in the opening fixture of the 14th edition of the league at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Saturday.

–IANS

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