The 12th edition of the 13-team Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), country's most prestigious football competition, gets underway Thursday (February 13) with opening day fixtures at three venues across the country.
Defending champions Bashundhara Kings will take on Uttar Baridhara Club in the opening match at 3:15 pm at their home venue--Sheikh Kamal National Stadium in Nilphamari on Thursday.
Three times champions Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club will face Chittagang Abahoni at Bangbandhu National Stadium in Dhaka at 6:30 pm while former champions Sheikh Russel KC will play Brothers Union Club at their home at Sylhet District Stadium at 6:30 pm on the day.
The thirteen participating teams are : Bashundhara Kings, Dhaka Abahani Limited, Sheikh Russel KC, Saif Sporting Club, Sheikh Jamal DC, Dhaka Mohammedan SC, Chittagong Abahani, Arambagh KS, Brothers Union Club, Muktijoddha Sangsad KC, Rahamatganj MFS, Bangladesh Police FC and Uttar Baridhara Club.
Top team will be the BPL champions while two bottom teams in the points table will be relegated to the Bangladesh Championship League (BCL).
Dhaka Abahani is the most successful team in the league having secured the BPL title six times featuring a hat-trick of the championship in the first three seasons.
Defending BPL champions Bashundhara Kings, who won the title convincingly in their inaugural appearance in the country's top flight football division, have already proven their worth by lifting the first trophy on offer in the current season, in the form of the the Federation Cup. That signaled their intent to retain the BPL title as well.
The Spanish coach of Bashundhara Kings Ocsar Bruzon said, We want to start the league with win. Uttar Baridhara Club got promoted to the country's top league from Bangladesh Championship League (2nd tier of BPL), but we are considering them as good opponent. However we want to clinch the top slot of the league from the very beginning.
The Kings coach believes his team are well-capable of retaining the title. This season will be more competitive than last year. We are more experienced and well prepared this time also, he added.
The 13-team BPL Football will be held at seven venues across the country with Dhirendranath Stadium of Cumilla named as a new venue. It will serve as home venue of Dhaka Mohammedan SC.
Besides, Sheikh Russell KC opted Sylhet as their home venue, holders Bashundhara Kings retained Sheikh Kamal Stadium in Nilphamari as their home venue, Saif Sporting venue opted Rafiq Uddin Bhuiyan Stadium in Mymensingh, Muktijoddha KS Sheikh Fazlul Haque Mani Stadium in Gopalganj, Chittagong Abahoni MA Aziz Stadium in Chattogram.
Dhaka Abahani Ltd, Brothers Union, Sheikh Jamal DC, Arambagh Krira Sangha, Bangladesh Police FC and Uttar Baridhara opted for Bangabandhu National Stadium as their home venue.
Roll of Honour
Season Champions Runners Up
2007 Dhaka Abahani Mohammedan SC
2008-09 Dhaka Abahani Mohammedan SC
2009-10 Dhaka Abahani Mohammedan SC
2010-11 Sheikh Jamal Muktijoddha Sangsad
2012 Dhaka Abahani Muktijoddha Sangsad
2012-13 Sheikh Russel Sheikh Jamal DC
2013-14 Sheikh Jamal DC Dhaka Abahani
2014-15 Sheikh Jamal DC Sheikh Russel
2015-16 Dhaka Abahani Chittagong Abahoni
2016-17 Dhaka Abahani Sheikh Jamal
2018-19 Bashundhara Kings Dhaka Abahani
Source: United News of Bangladesh