Brazilian football legend Pele, real name Edson Arantes do Nascimento, is likely to visit Dhaka in the latter half of February to mark the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Cholo Kheli Trust, a non-profit social organization, has taken the initiative inspired by ‘Mujib Borsho' to honour the contribution of the Swadhin Bangla football team during the Liberation War of Bangladesh as well as to regain the lost glory of the country’s football.
Confirming Pele’s invitational visit, the Chairman and Founder Trustee of Cholo Kheli Trust Ashique Rahman said, “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the Greatest Bengali of All Time. He is not only our Father of the Nation but one of the greatest leaders of world history. It is well-known that away from the field of politics, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s great love in the field of sport was football and Pele was the game’s superstar during that time. He is another such global legend, so who better to grace this once-in-a-lifetime occasion of 100 years of Bangabandhu. He was the best player during his time. Besides, Pele’s tour will help us to regain the lost glory of the our football”
“We have already informed the State Ministry for Youth and Sports and Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF). Both gave their consent and agreed to provide us all types of assistance including financial aid and security,” Ashique told UNB on Monday.
Earlier, Pele’s Bangladesh tour was postponed twice. First he was scheduled to visit last October and later rescheduled for this month.
Masud Jamil Khan, Co-Founder of Cholo Kheli Trust, is maintaining close communications with Pele’s agents.
About the delay, Ashique said, “Securing sponsorship was the main reason of delay. Even so, we are dealing with it.”
“Pele will visit in late February. It will be a two-day visit, during which he will meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, visit Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi, and then witness a friendly football match in which Swadhin Bangla football team & Friends will take on the Footy Hags team & Friends,” Ashique added.
Cholo Kheli Trust started its journey in July last year and was officially formed last September. The non-profit social organization mainly focuses on the fields of sports, education, health and information.
Pele is the only player to have won the World Cup thrice (1958, 1962, 1970), and is widely acknowledged as one of the two greatest footballers of –FIFA rated him as number 1, ahead of Argentine legend Diego Armando Maradona.
Meanwhile, the BFF also tried to bring another living legend of the world football and World Cup-winning Argentine captain, Diego Maradona in Dhaka during the ‘Mujib Borsho’ marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation.
Earlier, former Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar made a courtesy visit to Dhaka last week as a part of the campaign for the Bangabandhu Gold Cup Football Tournament.
Hosts Narayanganj District beat Faridpur District by 3-1 goals in the Padma Zone match of the Bangabandhu National Football Championship at the Narayanganj Osmani Stadium on Monday.
In the day’s another Padma Zone match, hosts Rajbari District beat Madaripur District by 2-0 goals at Kazi Hedayet Hossain Stadium.
In Meghna Zone, Sherpur beat hosts Manikganj by 5-4 goals in tie-breaker as the match was locked in a goalless draw at Shaeed Miraj-Tapan Stadium, Sirajganj District played 1-1 draw with Netrokona at Shaheed Shamsuddin Stadium in Sirajganj, Tangail crushed Jamalpur by 4-1 goals at the Tangail District Stadium while Gazipur District played goalless draw with Mymensingh District at Shaheed Barkat Stadium in Gazipur.
In Jamuna Zone, Chattogram beat hosts Feni by 2-0 goals at the Bhasha Shaheed Abdus Salam Stadium, Cox's Bazar thrashed hosts Khagrachari by 5-0 goals at the Khagrachari District Stadium, Rangamati routed Lakshmipur by 4-0 goals at Lakshmipur District Stadium while hosts Noakhali earned 2-1 victory over Bandarban at Shaeed Bhulu Stadium.
In Shitalakshya Zone, Kushtia managed a hard-fought 1-0 win over hosts Bogura at the Bir Muktijoddha Shaheed Momtaz Uddin Stadium while hosts Naogaon beat Rajshahi by 2-0 goals at the Naogaon District Stadium.
In the day’s other match, Chittagong University beat Jashore Board by 2-1 goals at the Kamalpur Stadium in Dhaka.
After spending the whole summer pushing for a move away from Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar is now enthralled with the club that made him the world's record signing at 222 million euros ($245 million).
It has been a staggering turnaround. Only months ago, Neymar was persona non grata in the eyes of many PSG fans after trying his utmost to re-join Barcelona, which sold him for that enormous sum.
Neymar even missed the start of PSG's season in doing so. When he finally appeared on Sept. 14 he was given a nasty reception by a section of PSG fans incensed at his behavior. PSG's hardcore ultras, in particular, were merciless in their expletive-laced tirades against him in that game.
They felt betrayed that he wanted to leave and let him know. Even though he scored a late winner in that game with a stunning scissor-kick volley, they still jeered him as he celebrated in a low-key manner so as not to antagonize them.
Even though this was only a few months ago, it all seems to be consigned to history with a new page turned.
Neymar is back in favor at PSG, something that seemed unfathomable during the tense final days of the summer transfer window in August.
Now he is in fine form once more.
On Sunday night he scored both goals in PSG's 2-0 win at Lille to take his league tally to 13 goals in 13 games, and 47 in 50 league games since joining in the summer of 2017.
His first goal against Lille was a superb curling shot into the top right corner, the second a coolly-struck penalty. But what stood out above those goals and his undoubted artistry was his seemingly new-found attitude.
Whisper it quietly: Yes, Neymar is becoming a team player, and a hard-working one.
Gone, it would appear, are the attention-hogging histrionics of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Back then, Neymar's constant tumbling and theatrical rolling on the ground drew the ire of opposing teams, fans from around the globe on social networks, and even exasperated Brazil fans.
These days Neymar is a player transformed. He rides tackles, even if they're hard or unfair, such as an awful lunge on his ankle from Lille midfielder Benjamin André. And he even tracks back to help his teammates defend.
His work ethic has increased considerably and, so far, it has not impeded his impact in attack.
"I'm very happy to help the team play in this way, to score goals and to provide assists," Neymar said through a translator after the Lille game. "I know what I need to do on the field."
Neymar is developing his passing range and link play, too.
He has formed a fine understanding with silky midfielder Marco Verratti, who seems to read his elusive runs as telepathically as Neymar senses his astute passes, and with France's World Cup-winning star Kylian Mbappé.
Neymar, who turns 28 on Feb. 5, is approaching his peak years as a player.
Now, after two injury-hit seasons where he twice broke his foot and where he arguably didn't help himself at times with his attitude, he seems to be hitting his stride at last.
"I'm playing at 100% and dedicated to PSG this season. I think we will do great things," he said. "I think I am in my best form of the season. I'm feeling good."
That's welcome news for PSG, which has failed to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League for the past three seasons and has only once reached the semifinals back in 1995.
Bashundhara Kings have formed a strong team for the 3rd edition of the Women’s Football League recruiting 23 booters, including 19 national players.
They together with other teams completed their player registration formalities for the upcoming meet at Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) office on the last day on Sunday.
They included National Women’s team Captain Sabina Khatun, Bangladesh U-19 team captain Mishrat Jahan Mousumi and key players like Monika Chakma, Krishna Rani Sarkar, Maria Manda and Sanjida Akhter.
The first edition of the women’s football league was held in 2011 where Sheikh Jamal DC clinched the title beating Dhaka Mohammedan.
In the last edition of the league in 2013, Dhaka Mohammedan Limited emerged champions beating Dhaka Abahani Limited.
After a long break of seven years, BFF is finally going to hold the league this year, but the traditional and big clubs like Dhaka Mohammedan, Dhaka Abahani and Sheikh Jamal DC are not taking part in the league this time.
On completion of the player registration formalities, Bashundhara Kings President Imrul Hasan said, “We’ve formed a strong team incorporating 19 national booters. The club has initially signed a one-year contract with them [booters]. The prominent clubs are not taking part in the league, so we got the chance to include the famed booters in our team.”
“Among Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Football teams, only we’re taking part in the women’s football league. Unfortunately, big clubs are not participating in meet this year. But, the good thing is that some new clubs have stepped forward,” he said.
About their target, Imrul said, “First, we want to be the champions in the league, and then our aim will be to take part in the AFC women’s competition. I’m not sure about the criteria of taking part in the AFC meet. But if we get the chance, we’ll obviously take part there. We have a plan to recruit some foreign players for the AFC competitions.”
Bangladesh National Women’s team Captain Sabina Khatun said, “Finally, we’re taking part in the league. Bashundhara Kings want to work for developing women’s football. Our aim is to be the champions in the league.”
The other seven participating teams are -- Begum Anwara Sporting Club, Nasrin Sporting Club, Kacharipara Ekadash, FC Uttar Bongo, Kumilla United, Shopnochura & Akkelpur Football Academy and Spartan MK Gallactico Sylhet FC.
The double-leg basis league will be held at the Bir Sherestha Shaheed Shipahi Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur.
Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishtan (BKSP) outplayed Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) by 7-1 goals in the Bangabandhu National Football Championship at the Kamalpur Stadium here on Sunday.
In the day’s other match at the same venue, Dhaka University beat Dhaka Education Board by 5-1 goals.
Hosts Natore District trounced Joypurhat District by 7-1 goals at the Sankar Gobindha Stadium in Natore on Sunday featuring a hat-trick by Zahidul.
In the day’s other matches, hosts Sylhet District played to a goalless draw with Sunamganj District at the Sylhet District Stadium while Pabna District drew one-all with Chapainawabganj District at the Shaheed Aminuddin Stadium in Pabna.