Ibrahim’s Review of 2015

Here we go again. Another annual review. My seventh actually. A great opportunity to reflect on a rollercoaster twelve months. As rollercoaster rides come, this has been quite a thrilling one. Sometimes a thriller doesn’t quite go the way you want it to. We’ve all seen a crazy game of football littered with goals – some may recall Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Newcastle United in 1996. Pundits and commentators argue that was the greatest match the Premier League has ever seen. Almost twenty years…

Look at me, harking on about the past. History can be interesting though. Ask my mother, she’ll tell you. Anyway, let’s get this show on the road as I share some of my highlights of 2015 with you…

Ibrahim reads an excerpt from his mother's novel Lascar at the Bishopsgate Library in London
Ibrahim reads an excerpt from his mother’s novel ‘Lascar’ at the Bishopsgate Institute, London

In January, my mother and I were invited to speak at the Everyday Muslim Symposium, held at the Bishopsgate Institute in London. It was a wonderful event to be part of and I really enjoyed the occasion, despite my reading skills being closely scrutinised by an attentive audience – and captured on camera! Many thanks to Sadiya Ahmed and Halima Khanom for giving me the opportunity to participate. You can watch my mother’s talk and my reading right here:


In February, I joined the team of presenters for a sports show on Cambridge 105, a local radio station based in Cambridge. Since August, I have been the lead presenter and producer of the new series. The show has covered local, national and global sport, and is aired every Saturday afternoon. This year, I interviewed a range of guests including Aziz Rahman and Shahin Miah of Cambridge Sporting Football Club, as well as the nation’s youngest restaurant/takeaway owner Safwaan Choudhury and Nurun Ahmed – a former contestant on the popular BBC TV series The Apprentice.

Ibrahim interviewed Safwaan Choudhury and Nurun Ahmed on Cambridge 105 Sport
Ibrahim interviewed Safwaan Choudhury and Nurun Ahmed on Cambridge 105 Sport

You can listen to all the interviews on my brand-new Soundcloud page! I have really enjoyed hosting the show this year. Many thanks to my fellow team members Jack Swindlehurst, Jack LangleyTim Ebanks and Sam Tunbridge for all your help and support. Special thanks to Tim Willett, the station manager, for giving me the opportunity to be involved. It has been a pleasure to be part of Cambridge 105 and I hope the station continues to go from strength to strength.


Shaful Islam, Bobby Friction and Ibrahim Rahman
With quiz team-mate Shaful Islam (left) and BBC Asian Network presenter Bobby Friction (centre)

2015 also witnessed a memorable ICC Cricket World Cup, particularly for Bangladesh who reached the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time. Unfortunately for England it was a tournament to forget, as they failed to qualify from their group.

In March, I ventured to the West Midlands to appear on a live BBC Asian Network show. I was on the Bobby Friction show and represented Team Bangladesh in a cricket quiz! It was great fun and we did pretty well – scoring 9/10! Many thanks to the production team and Bobby for having me. Shaf Islam was a top team-mate as well! You can listen to our performance (and all the banter) through the audio clip below:


Ramadan Roundup 4 was nominated for the 2015 Limelight Film Awards
Ramadan Roundup 4 was nominated for the 2015 Limelight Film Awards

It was a great year for Ramadan Roundup, as the latest episode of the series was nominated for a national film award. I attended this year’s Limelight Film Awards in June. Unfortunately, Ramadan Roundup 4 didn’t win the award but it was very humbling to have been shortlisted. News of the nomination was covered on local radio station Cambridge 105, newspapers East London News, London Bangla and Cambridge News, and on television through Islam Channel. You can watch our Ramadan Roundup interview with Raza Amode and myself right here:

Once again, a massive thank you to everyone for your support and to those who have contributed to the series. Unfortunately my plans for producing Ramadan Roundup 5 this year did not go ahead as I had hoped. Having said that, the episode is still in pre-production and I hope to continue working on it next year. God willing.

On the other hand, I can confirm that I have just started to film Ramadan Roundup 4.5, a mini-episode that is linked to Ramadan Roundup 4 but leads on to Ramadan Roundup 5. More news to come very soon, but do keep your eyes peeled on the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for more updates! The adventure continues…

Ramadan Roundup 4.5 is in production...
Ramadan Roundup 4.5 is in production…

Ibrahim was a contributor to the BBC's Ramadan in a Day project
Ibrahim was a contributor to the BBC’s Ramadan in a Day project

In July, I was one of the contributors for the Ramadan in a Day project, a BBC Taster experiment delivered in partnership with BBC Asian Network. The project set out to capture a day of life during Ramadan, giving people the chance to tell their own stories through social media. I appeared in a series of videos that you can still watch on the BBC Asian Network YouTube channel. Check out one of the clips right here:


Ibrahim at the Asian Media Awards 2015
Ibrahim at the Asian Media Awards 2015

In September, I was shortlisted as a finalist in the Regional Journalist of the Year category at the Asian Media Awards 2015. I attended the official shortlist announcement at the ITV Studios in London, before making the very long trip to the Hilton Manchester Deansgate for the main showpiece in October. Unfortunately I missed out on the award, but I was really humbled to have been chosen as a finalist under a brand-new category at this year’s awards. It was a fantastic occasion.

Ibrahim's Profile - page 53 of the Asian Media Awards 2015 brochure
Ibrahim’s profile was listed in the Asian Media Awards 2015 brochure

And there you have it. My biggest moments in 2015 in a nutshell. Now, I’m going to sit in front of my clock and stare at it until it strikes twelve. Analogue or digital you ask? Don’t bother asking, that’s a very boring thing to do. Also time-consuming. Go ahead and laugh, you know that was funny…

As 2015 draws to a close, I shall leave you with this quote:

“The more difficult it is to reach your destination, the more you will remember and appreciate the journey.”

This year has been thrilling and memorable. A massive thank you to all of you for your support and kindness. I wrote in my last annual review hoping this year would be a great year for you all, and I really hope it has been.

Thank you for following my adventures this year. Let’s see what happens in 2016. Let the journey continue.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Bobby’s Breaking Boundaries

The last few weeks have been pretty exciting, particularly if you are a fan of the Bangladesh cricket team! Australia went on to win the ICC Cricket World Cup, but Bangladesh made history by reaching the quarter-finals for the first time. It was a memorable tournament for the Tigers!

Earlier this month, I travelled alone to Birmingham. Believe me, it was a tough and exhausting journey! Cambridge to London King’s Cross, took the London Underground to Euston, and then jumped on the London Midland service all the way from London Euston to Birmingham New Street. From Cambridge to Birmingham, it must’ve taken me three hours! Why did I go to Birmingham, you ask? Read on.

I was at BBC Asian Network, representing Team Bangladesh in a cricket quiz on the Bobby Friction show! Five countries took part in the game – Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and England. The two teams that achieved the highest scores would appear in the final to battle for the ultimate prize… actually, there wasn’t a prize at all. We were all fighting for pride and bragging rights…

Team Pakistan were the first to be called up on Day One of the quiz and scored 10/10, leaving me and my team-mate Shaful Islam with a mountain to climb if we were to reach the final.

The quiz was divided into two parts. The first five questions were about Bangladeshi cricket, with the latter focusing on general knowledge of cricket. The first round began. Each question was bowled in with searing pace. We had to attack. We danced down the wicket and slogged them all for six. In other words, we got off to the perfect start, blazing through the first round as we turned up the pressure on Team Pakistan with five correct answers. The chase was on. So far so good. Five down, five more to go…

After a short musical interlude, it was time for the final round. Three more questions were launched at us. We kept our calm and composure, blasting them over the ropes yet again. We started to believe. We had hope. The final was within touching distance. We saw light at the end of the tunnel… and then the penultimate delivery left us stunned.

We failed to provide an answer for the ninth question. It was a dot ball. We knew at that point, it was out of our hands. We recovered to successfully answer the final question, finishing the quiz on 9/10. We were so close. It felt like the Asia Cup final of 2012 when Pakistan beat Bangladesh by a mere TWO runs… it was agonising! However, we had to remind ourselves that our involvement in this competition wasn’t quite over yet…

We were relying on Team India, Team Sri Lanka and Team England to score lower than us, which would have confirmed our place in the final against Team Pakistan. The dream was still alive. There was still a glimmer of hope but our chances were now hanging by a thread. Sadly, our fate was eventually sealed when Team England scored a perfect 10, knocking us out of the competition along with India (9) and Sri Lanka (8).

Dramatics aside, I had a fantastic time on the show! It was a really enjoyable experience and I want to thank the production team and Bobby for having me. It was great meeting Shaf as well – who was an awesome team-mate!

You can listen to our performance (and all our jokes) by checking out the audio clip below. Enjoy!

BBC Asian Network: Bobby’s Breaking Boundaries (Day Two), Team Bangladesh – 05 March 2015 by Ibrahim Rahman on Mixcloud

Ibrahim’s Review of 2014

It’s that time of year again. The time when I turn around 180 degrees clockwise or anti-clockwise and immerse myself with flashbacks. Whoa, that was bright! Oh, that was just me being dazzled by a car’s headlights. How can I be looking at a car’s headlights when I am supposed to be looking at my computer and focusing on this annual review? We’ll never know. Or maybe you will. It could just be one of life’s mysteries. Anyway, I digress.

Welcome to my sixth annual review. As always, another eventful year has found itself arrive and depart through the revolving doors of time. Is it me or am I starting to become poetic? No, I’m serious. Tweet me about it. Use an appropriate hashtag if you like. Be nice though. Let’s rewind the last twelve months…

Ibrahim visits Anfield for the first time
Ibrahim visits Anfield for the first time

I have travelled to quite a few places this year, and January witnessed my first trip to Anfield. After winning free tickets in a competition, I went to visit the home of my favourite football team – Liverpool FC. The result was a disappointing 2-2 draw with Aston Villa but watching from the stands was a memorable experience! I visited Anfield again three months later to watch the “Celebration of the 96” charity match. Another 2-2 draw!

Ibrahim visits the Emirates Stadium
Ibrahim visits the Emirates Stadium

In February, lightning struck twice. My brother Imran ALSO won free tickets to watch Arsenal play Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored twice as the Gunners sealed a comfortable 2-0 victory over their London rivals. It was a different kind of experience to the one I had at Anfield, but enjoyable nonetheless. The inside of the stadium was visually impressive and we had a nice view from the stands. Overall, it was an enjoyable visit and the match was decent. Let’s hope Imran wins tickets again!

Ibrahim speaks on-stage at the Maa Amar Maa Awards
Ibrahim speaks on-stage at this year’s Maa Amar Maa Awards

In March, I attended the Maa Amar Maa Awards in London – an awards ceremony hosted by Pillar Productions to honour British Bangladeshi mothers in the UK. My mother won the Mother of the Year award! I was also invited on stage to say a few words which was quite nerve-wracking, but good practice for my public speaking skills. I met old and new faces but at the end of the day, it was a wonderful and joyous occasion. Definitely one of the highlights of the year!

Ibrahim in the BBC Asian Network studio with Shahida Rahman and Dilara Khan
Ibrahim in the BBC Asian Network studio with Shahida Rahman and Dilara Khan

Some days after the event, we were both invited for a live interview on BBC Asian Network. In an exciting and lively exchange of words with presenter Nadia Ali, I was asked about why I nominated my mother for an award. We also participated in a fun “Mother v Son” quiz! We were interviewed alongside Dilara Khan, the CEO of Pillar Productions and producer of Maa Amar Maa. Once again, another memorable day!

The Second Yellow
The Second Yellow

Welcome to May. I teamed up with Abu Ali to form The Second Yellow, a joint venture with the aim of delivering and discussing some of the biggest stories in football through writing articles and producing a podcast series. We have produced two episodes so far but are hoping for greater things in the new year. Watch this space!

Ramadan Roundup 4
Ramadan Roundup 4

I spent the next couple of months preparing for Ramadan Roundup 4. Raza Amode and Ubaid Sajid returned for this year’s instalment, after previously appearing in Ramadan Roundup 2. We also welcomed many new faces including Nadia Ali from BBC Asian Network! Cambridge locals Moghees Darr, Amira Haque and Ayat Rasool also made their first on-screen appearances in the series, and Uzma Chaudhry silenced the doubters by providing her voice all the way from Manchester for the opening scene. I should visit Manchester one day, it sounds like a nice place! It was a big cast this year and I am really grateful to everyone for being part of it! THANK YOU!

Ibrahim at Inspire FM
Ibrahim talked about the Ramadan Roundup series at Inspire FM

Throughout July, Ramadan Roundup gained a fair amount of media exposure through Inspire FM, a community radio station in Luton. I talked about the series as a live guest and “co-host” on the Urban Kube Show, presented by Shemiza Rashid. The series also got a mention in Weekly Desh, a bilingual British Bangladeshi weekly newspaper distributed around the UK. A North American-based online magazine called The Aerogram also published their series review. Thank you to all for your coverage!

In August, I reported for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to cover the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations in Cambridge. My Ramadan reports from last year were also repeated again on the Sunday Breakfast show.

September came along and I joined local community radio station Cambridge 105 as a reporter. My first report appeared on 105 Drive with Julian Clover, after attending the “Question Cambridge” event and I interviewed Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, about his thoughts on the city’s transportation infrastructure and encouraging more people to get into entrepreneurship. Listen to the report here.

Ibrahim and Nadia Ali on BBC Asian Network
Ibrahim and Nadia Ali on BBC Asian Network

I also worked for a month as a trainee assistant producer at BBC Asian Network on Nadia Ali‘s show. I had an amazing time! I recorded, edited and uploaded short video clips onto the BBC Asian Network Facebook page and had some fun posting and reading tweets! I also had the privilege of meeting Nurun Ahmed, a contestant from the tenth series of The Apprentice.

Ibrahim with Nurun Ahmed, contestant on the tenth series of "The Apprentice"
Ibrahim with Nurun Ahmed, contestant on the tenth series of “The Apprentice”

I recorded an awesome Apprentice-style video with Nadia performing as Sir Alan Sugar, who was analysing a comical pitch from Nurun. The video reached out to over 25,000 people within 7 days! I really enjoyed the experience and definitely would love to return again!

And then it was November. I attended the British Bangladeshi Who’s Who 2014 publication launch and awards ceremony at Alexandra Palace, London. I was listed in this year’s publication, recognising my work as a reporter, filmmaker, web designer and developer. I was also told that I am the youngest ever entrant to be listed in the book!

Finally, we reach December. I returned to Cambridge 105 to report from this year’s Mill Road Winter Fair. As the Fair returned for its tenth year, the Cambridge Mosque on Mawson Road also held its annual open day. I went to find out what was happening and then I went off to interview local stallholders. My two reports also featured in their podcast. All in all, another enjoyable day!

2014 has been an amazing year for me. There have been some challenging and difficult moments at times, but the tremendous support I have received from so many of you really helped me to keep going. Here is a quote I found a couple of days ago from Mufti Ismail Menk:

“Don’t forget those who have helped you along the way. Meet them; give them a call. We can never show too much appreciation to those who matter.”

I cannot thank you all enough, I am so grateful for all your support and generosity. May you all be immensely rewarded for your efforts. I had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people this year and I hope 2015 will be a great year for everyone. I hope you have enjoyed following my adventures this year – let’s create some new ones together.

I wish you all the best for the year ahead. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

P.S. There’s a new web series on the horizon…

Rahman Red Reflection: Liverpool Triumph in Marathon Penalty Shootout

Liverpool won a dramatic penalty shootout 14-13 against Championship outfit Middlesbrough to reach the fourth round of the League Cup.

The Reds took the lead after ten minutes through 17-year-old debutant Jordan Rossiter, but the away side equalised when Adam Reach headed in just after the hour mark. In extra time, Suso came off the bench for Liverpool to slam home with 11 minutes remaining but Middlesbrough’s Patrick Bamford stunned Anfield with a last-gasp spot-kick to force a penalty shootout.

Simon Mignolet pushed out the away side’s first penalty from Bamford but Raheem Sterling failed to score Liverpool’s fifth, confirming sudden death in the shootout. Twenty penalties were all scored in a row as each player from both clubs, including the goalkeepers, demonstrated fantastic courage and showed nerves of steel. The match finally reached its conclusion when Boro winger Albert Adomah missed the target – Anfield roared with relief and celebrated a memorable victory.

Middlesbrough certainly deserve massive credit for pushing Liverpool all the way in this cup tie. There is still plenty for Rodgers to worry about and he must have been relieved to see his side progress to the fourth round of the League Cup.

Overall, performances this season have generally been poor (except for the display at Tottenham Hotspur) but worryingly and most importantly, the league results have been unsatisfactory. The Merseyside derby is fast approaching and both Liverpool and Everton have struggled in the league so far, but Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez will view this game as a great platform to reignite themselves as they aim to climb the table.

Rahman Red Reflection: Impressive Irons Hammer Lacklustre Liverpool

Liverpool were well beaten by a powerful West Ham United, inflicting a third defeat in five league games on Brendan Rodgers’ side.

The Reds failed to cope with their opponents’ fast start, scoring twice through Winston Reid and Diafra Sakho in the opening seven minutes. Liverpool halved the deficit through Raheem Sterling who lashed in the rebound for his third goal of the season, after Mario Balotelli’s attempt had initially been blocked. The Reds pressed hard in search of an equaliser, only to be continually thwarted by Hammers keeper Adrian but this left them vulnerable to the counter attack and their misery was soon complete. Morgan Amalfitano jumped off the bench to apply a late clinical finish and secure West Ham’s first home win this season.

It was a dreadful display from Liverpool. They never looked settled and West Ham exploited their weaknesses. Looking at the defence, there is a serious lack of organisation and leadership. Dejan Lovren has had a shaky start to life at Anfield and Mamadou Sakho has also struggled in recent games. Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo have been hit and miss so far. These defensive frailties, however, are not new and you only need to look at last season to see the number of goals they conceded. Too many.

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge were so important in the previous campaign but there is little point saying Liverpool are missing the Uruguayan. First of all, it’s obvious that any team would miss someone with his qualities. Secondly, he is still banned so he wouldn’t have played anyway. The bottom line is he no longer plays for Liverpool. Focus on the players who are actually in the squad. Move on.

Sturridge’s absence is clearly hurting Liverpool at the moment and he should be returning very soon. I hope he can hit the ground running straight away as Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert have yet to score in the league.

They are also really missing Joe Allen, a player who is accomplished with the ball at his feet but works very hard to reclaim possession for his team. Liverpool are missing his tenacity, energy and excellent workrate.

The Reds are lacking that spark at the moment and hopefully Sturridge’s comeback will reignite their attack. It’s still early days but three losses in their first five league games is worrying. Liverpool face Middlesbrough in the 3rd round of the Capital One Cup at Anfield and it seems inevitable that Rodgers will make plenty of changes, but I hope he fields a strong starting eleven as they need to return to winning ways quickly.

The Merseyside derby is not far away…

Rahman Red Reflection: Vivacious Villa Emerge Victorious

Gabriel Agbonlahor’s ninth-minute strike for Aston Villa was enough to punish a lifeless Liverpool and secure three well-deserved points for the visitors.

Brendan Rodgers was forced to reshuffle his pack as Daniel Sturridge, Joe Allen and Emre Can were confined to the sidelines after picking up injuries during international duty, handing Anfield debuts to Adam Lallana, Mario Balotelli, Lazar Markovic and Alberto Moreno. The Reds fell behind after failing to deal with a corner, allowing Villa striker Agbonlahor to prod the ball in from close range. Liverpool continued to show nervousness from set pieces and could easily have conceded more goals. As the match wore on, Liverpool dominated possession but the away side were rarely troubled. Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan was hardly tested as Rodgers’ side mustered eighteen shots in total – with only one shot on target.

Daniel Sturridge’s absence was clearly felt in this game. He is a peripheral figure for Liverpool and they need him to return to fitness as soon as possible. I was also surprised that Raheem Sterling was on the bench – Rodgers was clearly looking towards Tuesday’s Champions League group match against Ludogorets Razgrad. I wouldn’t want to place so much pressure on his young shoulders as he is only 19 but I would have started him for this match, especially as our recent record at home against Aston Villa has been poor. Did he not get enough time to rest after returning from international duty? When I saw Rodgers’ team selection, I initially thought that Sterling could come on later in the game and make a positive impact but sadly for Liverpool, this did not happen on this occasion.

Adam Lallana made his first appearance of the season and I thought he played relatively well. He was replaced on the hour mark and was lacking match sharpness, but he showed glimpses of his qualities and a sign of things to come. The former Southampton skipper needs a good run of games and hopefully it will not be long until Liverpool see the types of displays that led to his acquisition from the south coast.

Mario Balotelli struggled to make an impact and was on the receiving end of some rough treatment from the opposing defenders. It was a difficult game for the Italian but he was good at holding the ball up and spreading the play to the wide players. Balotelli created a good chance for Lallana – his low drive from distance flashing just wide of Guzan’s near post.

Overall, it was a poor Liverpool performance but Aston Villa deserve great credit for their victory. Paul Lambert’s side were organised, stubborn, disciplined and had frustrated the Reds on a disappointing evening at Anfield.

Bring on the Champions League!

Rahman Red Reflection: Moreno of the Same Please?

Last Sunday, Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool returned to winning ways with an impressive 3-0 away win over Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur. Mario Balotelli produced a lively display on his Reds debut, presented with excellent chances but unable to convert them into goals. However, his inaccuracies were insignificant as Liverpool delivered another brilliant attacking display at White Hart Lane.

The Reds gained an early lead when Raheem Sterling slotted in at the far post – Daniel Sturridge identified Jordan Henderson’s clever forward burst, who unselfishly squared across the face of the goal for the 19-year-old to steer past Hugo Lloris. Spurs right-back Eric Dier conceded a spot-kick for tugging back Joe Allen, with Steven Gerrard confidently burying his penalty after 49 minutes. The home side’s demise was confirmed at the hour mark as Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno dispossessed Andros Townsend, before charging forward into space at blistering speed and then firing a low shot into the far corner to secure the points.

It was a brilliant performance from the Reds, reminiscent of the types of displays that Liverpool frequently showed throughout last season. Balotelli had a good debut despite failing to open his goalscoring account but as his fitness and understanding of the team’s playing style improves with time, one can only think he will make progress. £16m to secure his services was an excellent piece of business – time will tell if he is a success at Anfield and Balotelli knows that he needs to make the most of this opportunity.

I was particularly pleased with Alberto Moreno. He received a lot of criticism for his inability to prevent Manchester City’s opener at the Etihad, but he responded in superb fashion against Spurs. Defensively he was solid but the highlight has to be his stunning solo goal. Signed for £12m from Sevilla and only 22 years of age, he can only get better. Still a long way to go of course, but Moreno looks like he will be a vital player if he continues to burst down the wings and provides another dimension to Liverpool’s attacking play. Most importantly, he is a full-back so he must carry out his defensive duties too as this is an area that Liverpool must improve on, after their back-line frailties were exposed in the last campaign.

Last but not least, we have Raheem Sterling, who was just exceptional. Liverpool have such a talented young player in their hands and he is so good to watch. I remember my first visit to Anfield when I watched Liverpool draw 2-2 with Aston Villa. A game that most Liverpool supporters would probably want to forget but when I watched Sterling on the ball, he looked a player who could really make things happen. He would get you out of your seat. He was unpredictable – you didn’t know if he would cut inside or go round the outside. He was a serious threat against Spurs, playing in a more central role and constantly striking fear into the opposition with his pace and direct running. Many will have loved the moment when he was dancing into the penalty area, beating players as if they weren’t even there… until you get to the part where he weakly prodded the ball straight into the grasp of Hugo Lloris. What a moment that could have been…

It has been a decent start in the league for Liverpool so far. 2 wins out of 3 is respectable, especially when the defeat at Manchester City is also taken into account. As mentioned before, there is a still a long way to go and Rodgers’ side will be closely examined as the sesason progresses. It certainly is a massive season for him and the club.

Rahman Red Reflection: Clinical City Rifle the Reds

Liverpool suffered their first defeat of the season as Stevan Jovetic and Sergio Aguero inspired Manchester City to a comfortable 3-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium.

For much of the first half, Liverpool looked comfortable in possession and were rarely troubled. For 40 minutes, Manchester City were yet to register a shot on target, until a defensive lapse in the 18-yard box allowed Jovetic to pounce and blast his powerful strike through the legs of the despairing Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. Ten minutes into the second half, Jovetic doubled his tally with a wonderful team goal that was initiated and dispatched by the Montenegro striker. Sergio Aguero was introduced midway through the second half and within seconds, he dashed onto an excellent pass from Jesus Navas, finishing from a tight angle to all but end the contest. Liverpool secured a consolation after Rickie Lambert attacked a Daniel Sturridge cross and pressured Pablo Zabaleta to turn the ball into his own net.

Before Jovetic scored, I thought Liverpool played well in the first half. They had plenty of the ball and it looked like they would be going in level at half-time. Alberto Moreno made his debut and it was a difficult place to make an immediate impression. Unfortunately for him, he will be scrutinised for his error that led to Manchester City’s first goal. Moreno is 22 and can only get better. The home side were clinical in taking their chances and ultimately deserved the three points.

However, I am still concerned about the defence. Rodgers must address this as first priority. Liverpool conceded far too many goals last season and many have argued that this was the main reason why they failed to win the Premier League title. It will take time for Liverpool’s new signings to settle in and adapt to Brendan Rodgers’ philosophy. Mario Balotelli should be available for Sunday’s visit to White Hart Lane and hopefully Liverpool can return to winning ways as soon as possible.

At such an early stage of this season, I would not be too alarmed at this result as there is still a very long way to go. Rodgers must know that the defence needs to improve and hopefully they will work on this on the training ground. The new signings will understandably need time to gel and adjust to the high intensity of English football. Manchester City had the best home record in the league last season and I would not be surprised if Manuel Pellegrini’s side achieved this feat again. They have a fantastic squad – for a manager to be able to bring on a player like Aguero demonstrates their superior strength in depth and can only reaffirm the fact that they are one of the favourites to claim the title this season.

It’s still very early days and we shall see what happens…

Rahman Red Reflection: Southampton, Suarez and the (New) SAS

Liverpool started the 2014/15 season with an unconvincing 2-1 victory over Southampton at Anfield. It was a nervous encounter for the home side, as new Saints manager Ronald Koeman set out his team to frustrate the opposition and in doing so, they played very well and created some excellent goalscoring opportunities. The sheer delight on the face of Brendan Rodgers was clear for all to see when Daniel Sturridge swept in the winning goal, taking advantage of a knock-on from man-of-the-match Raheem Sterling, who also got his name on the scoresheet today with a neat finish in front of the Kop.

Sterling and Sturridge. The new SAS? Sounds exciting. Martin Skrtel chipped in a few times last season. We had a case of SASAS against Arsenal. If only El Pistolero was still here…

I was very disappointed that Luis Suarez left for Barcelona, especially the manner in how he made his departure, but I do believe the club was right to sell him. He is a really special talent and he will definitely be missed at Anfield, but the club has to move on and they will.

Is it impossible to replace Suarez? It is very difficult to name another player in the world who possesses similar qualities. The likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Bale spring to mind, but that is another debate entirely and it would be a dream if one of them became a Liverpool player! Tottenham Hotspur sold Gareth Bale for £85.3 million but failed to achieve their aim of securing a top-four finish, with Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood heading in and out through the revolving doors of White Hart Lane last season. The majority of the players they signed had struggled to make an impact and it will be interesting to see if their new manager Mauricio Pochettino can get the best out of his squad.

Liverpool sold Suarez for around £75 million and Rodgers has recruited the services of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Dejan Lovren, Divock Origi and Alberto Moreno. Javier Manquillo has also joined the club for two seasons on loan. I think they are all good acquisitions and time will tell if Rodgers has signed the right players for Liverpool to challenge for honours, but a quality striker is a requirement to support Sturridge.

To conclude, Liverpool should be encouraged by the fact they were able to kick off their Premier League campaign with a win despite a below-par performance. There is still a very long way to go and hopefully the displays will get better as the new signings adjust to life at Anfield, but the Reds visit Manchester City next week. A big game for both sides, but far from season-defining…

Bangladesh Draw in Mirpur

My second article was published in the December 2013 edition of the Asian World, a monthly newspaper based in Birmingham, United Kingdom.


Bangladesh v New Zealand
21-25 October 2013
Second Test, Mirpur
Bangladesh: 282 and 269-3
New Zealand: 437
MATCH DRAWN

Persistent rainfall throughout the Second Test steered Bangladesh and New Zealand towards a disappointing and frustrating conclusion in Mirpur, as the series ended 0-0.

Looking to build on their encouraging performance in the First Test, the Tigers decided to bat first with Tamim Iqbal leading the charge. The Bangladeshi opener was the top scorer of the first innings with 95 off 153 balls, collecting 17 fours in an impressive individual display. Although Marshall Ayub (41) and Mominul Haque (47) narrowly missed out on half-centuries, Bangladesh were eventually dismissed for 282.

New Zealand responded strongly through a maiden Test century from Corey Anderson, the 22-year-old blasting 13 fours and 2 sixes in a superb 116 off 173. Supporting knocks from BJ Watling (70 not out), Kane Williamson (62), Ish Sodhi (58) and Ross Taylor (53) boosted the total to 437, providing the visitors with an important advantage in the match. The Bangladeshi bowlers struggled to make their mark, despite the noteworthy efforts of their all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan who managed to complete his tenth five-wicket haul. It was evident that the home side were faced with a difficult task as they prepared for their second innings.

New Zealand’s Neil Wagner successfully nullified any potential threats early on by removing the likes of Anamul Haque and Marshall Ayub. However, Tamim Iqbal replied with a patient 70 off 218 deliveries and established an excellent 157-run partnership with Mominul Haque, who maintained his tremendous form with a second successive century – striking 16 fours in an unbeaten 126 from 225. Bangladesh had set a new record – this was their highest third-wicket partnership in Tests. As Shakib Al Hasan chipped in with a solid 32 and remained at the crease with Mominul Haque, Bangladesh’s dominance with the bat ensured New Zealand were handed a challenging proposition going into the final day.

It was an impressive reaction from the Tigers which demonstrated a high level of discipline and maturity, particularly when they have been culpable for throwing away wickets in the third innings of Test matches. When the fifth day arrived, both teams were deprived of any action due to rain as the match came to a close. Bangladesh can walk away with their heads held high after drawing a Test series against a side ranked higher than them in the rankings. Mominul Haque was named both man of the match and the series.

Bangladesh Draw in Mirpur