Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuyan keen to make impact in I-League

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Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuyan (Photo/ AIFF)
Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuyan (Photo/ AIFF)

New Delhi [India], November 9 (ANI): Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuyan is keen to make an impact in the I-League after the newly promoted side Mohammedan SC roped in midfielder for the upcoming season.

"An offer from the I-League is very good for me. So when Mohammedan Sporting approached me I asked around to know more about their rich history. They just earned a promotion and now want to win the League. I felt that that is the kind of intent I want to play with, and that I can make an impact there. Looking forward to playing at Mohammedan," All India Football Federation quoted Jamal as saying.

The Bangladesh captain has enjoyed a healthy rivalry with the Blue Tigers in international football and boasts of a record where he was never lost to India on the three occasions when he played against his neighbouring country. Jamal feels a special motivation when it comes to playing against India in the international area.

"It's always special to play against India because India is like an elder brother to Bangladesh. And you always want to beat your elder brother when you play against him," he said.

Looking back at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Joint Qualifier that was played in Kolkata last year, Jamal informed that the entire team was charged up ahead of the game.

"That day I sensed a different atmosphere in our camp when I woke up. Everybody wanted to do well against India. Right from the morning, we were cheering each other up, telling everyone to pick up the essentials, do our morning stretches properly and be ready for the game. This match meant a lot to us," he recalled.

"In the stadium, the galleries were already full by the time we had come in for our pre-game warmups. That's when we felt that this is going to be a really good game. The crowd was amazing," Jamal added.

The holding midfielder had played a crucial role for Bangladesh against the Blue Tiger in the game. While he was carrying out his duties in the heart of the midfield, Jamal also had the added task of marking his Indian counterpart and talismanic forward Sunil Chhetri.

"Sunil is an icon and a legend in India. He's scored so many International goals, so we always had our eyes on him. The Coach and I spoke about the game and he told me, 'You have to stop Sunil'. So I was focusing on not letting him get any chances. Whatever move he made, I went with him. My job that day was to cut him off from the rest and frustrate him," recalled Jamal.

While the Bangladesh captain went about his duties neutralising Sunil Chhetri, he also managed to play a role in his side taking the lead in the first half, as he provided the assist for Saad Uddin to nod in a free-kick. The Blue Tigers responded via Adil Khan in the second half, as the teams shared the spoils.

It was after that game the charm of Kolkata and its football lovers struck Jamal, who had started off his career at Danish club Hellerup IK.

"Some of the fans recognised me when we were going around the city after the game. They came to me and told me about how well I had played. I was quite taken aback. I had initially felt that they would maybe throw taunts at me because I was on the opposing side. But they showed a lot of respect, and as a player, you really appreciate that," Jamal said.

The 14th edition of the I-League will kick-off on January 9 next year in Kolkata. (ANI)