Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra are back in business as the treble-winning club of the 2012-2013 season are looking to form a big-budget, star-studded side for the next season.
After a barren and frustrating season where they finished seventh in the Bangladesh Premier League and failed to reach the semifinals of either the Federation Cup or the Independence Cup, the club officials are breaking the bank to lure national stars from other clubs.
Amidst all the doom and gloom, the new leviathans of Bangladesh football had a rare moment of success as they reached the AFC president's Cup's final round, which will be held in September in Sri Lanka. And that tournament is believed to be one reason why the club officials are making the early move to lure the star players to their tent.
According to sources inside the club, at least 10 national players of different clubs, a majority of whom are from Abahani and Mohammedan, have already agreed to join Sheikh Russel as they have been offered handsome amounts. The national team's goalkeeper Mamun Khan, defender Tapu Barman, forwards Zahid Hossain, Zahid Hasan Emily and Hemanta Vincent Bishwash agreed to join from Mohammedan while Abahani's national players Atiqur Rahman Meshu and Wali Faisal along with Shahedul Alam and Jamal Hossain have agreed to join Sheikh Russel for the upcoming season.
Apart from these players, Muktijoddha keeper Rasel Mahmud Liton and Sheikh Jamal defender Ashraf Mahmud Linkon have also agreed to join the club.
Meanwhile, the club is likely to retain the services of some of its key players who played for them last season, including striker Mithun Chowdhury, defender Rezaul Karim, goalkeeper Masud Rana, right-back Sohel Rana and midfielder Rabbi while Serbian defender Bojan Petric and Nigerian forward Kingsley will also stay with the club, informed the source.
“Even though it is Sk Russel participating in the finals of the AFC President's Cup, it is Bangladesh who we will be represented. Keeping that in mind we are forming our squad with the inclusion of 10 to 12 national players. Everything will be settled very soon and we will meet the commitments we have made to the players,” said Selim.
Selim informed that Tk 35 lakh will be paid to one or more of the marquee players while none of the players will receive less than Tk 20 lakh.
Mithun, Emily and Zahid are thought to be the top-paid players, even though Selim declined to name any names in this regard.
Selim also informed that former Team BJMC coach Zakaria Babu is going to take charge as the head coach for the AFC President's Cup campaign, the preparation camp for which will start on August 20 at the BUET ground.
Sk Russel, pitted in Group B, will begin their AFC President's Cup campaign with a match against Mongolia's Erchim FC on September 20 and will play their group's last match on September 24 against South Korea's Rimyongsu FC. The leaders of this group will play in the final against the winners of Group A on September 26.