Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuyan eager to excel at Mohammedan Sporting

Jamal Bhuyan, captain of the Bangladesh national team, is one of Mohammedan Sporting's top signings ahead of the upcoming I-League season.

Jamal Bhuyan

Jamal Bhuyan enjoyed a healthy rivalry with the Blue Tigers on the international football arena and boasts of an unbeaten record in the three games he has played against India.   -  AIFF

Jamal Bhuyan had arrived in Kolkata last year as the captain of the Bangladesh football team and led the side to a 1-1 draw with India. A little over a year later, he returns to the city as one of Mohammedan Sporting's top signings for the upcoming I-League season.

Talking about his move to Mohammedan Sporting, which recently won promotion to the I-League, he said, “They just earned 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. (I am) looking forward to playing at Mohammedan.”

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The Bangladesh captain enjoyed a healthy rivalry with the Blue Tigers on the international football arena and boasts of an unbeaten record in the three games he has played against India.

“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,” the Bangladesh captain told the-aiff.com.

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 said, “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.”

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“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,” he added.

The holding midfielder played a crucial role in the game. While he was carrying out his duties in the heart of the midfield, he also had the added task of marking his Indian counterpart, 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,” he said.

While he marked Chhetri, he was instrumental in his side's goal as he provided the assist for Saad Uddin's header. The Blue Tigers responded via Adil Khan in the second half, as the teams shared the spoils.

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It was after that game that 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,” he said.

“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,” he added.

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The 30-year-old will look to settle quickly into life in Kolkata as he feels that knowing Bengali will help him develop a connection with the local players. However, he also feels a deeper connect on his sojourn across the border.

“I think the environment and culture in Kolkata will be very similar to the one we experience back here in Bangladesh,” he said.

“My family used to stay in India before Independence. That was a long time back, but I am really looking forward to it as it will be kind of getting back to the roots as well,” he continued.

The 30-year-old has been a keen observer of Indian football in the past, and had been following the progress of one of his old friends from his days in Denmark – David Williams.

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However, he was quick to point out that the Australian is now at ATK Mohun Bagan, a club that Mohammedan Sporting consider a rival.

“I’ve been following the progress of David (Williams). We have been friends for some time. I like to follow his matches in the ISL. But ATK Mohun Bagan is a rival club now, and I love rivalries,” laughed Jamal.

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