DHAKA, March 23, 2019 : The Bangladesh U-23 football team started their AFC U-23 Championship 2020 qualifiers campaign with a losing note as they went down a fighting a solitary goal defeat to host Bahrain in their group B opening match held on Friday at Khalifa Sports City Stadium in Bahrain capital of Manama.
The match was an end to end affair right from the beginning of the match. Even though Bangladesh head coach Jamie Day adopted a more defensive technique to cope with a superior Bahrain side, the Red and Greens also had their fair share of chances.
A five-man Bangladesh backline was doing its job quite impeccably. However, disaster struck in the 21st minute. Bangladesh defence failed to deal with a fast and low cross from Bahrain’s right wing, the ball evaded everyone in front of the goalpost and reached Bahrain skipper Mohamed Yusuf Hardan on the other side of the box. Taking the ball in his stride with one tough, Hardan put the laces of his left boot through the ball which rocketed past Bangladesh goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico who could not stop the ball from going into the net even after diving to his left side. Bangladesh, however, resumed the game with renewed vigour and put more pressure on the Bahrain backline. The Red and Greens created some serious problems for the Bahrain defence and but a combined lack of luck and clinical finishing meant that the Middle Eastern ‘outfit’ managed to keep the Bangladesh attackers at bay.
On the other side of the pitch, Bangladesh goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico stood like a rock wall in front of the Bahrain arsenal. Apart from the unfortunate goal, Zico was always upto the task whenever the ball made it through the Bangladesh defence. As the last line of defence, it was Zico who made sure that the margin of the loss stayed at its minimum.
In a post-match reaction, Bangladesh head coach Jamie Day said, “I’m really pleased with the effort and the work rate of the boys. I think they have put in a fantastic shift.”
“It was Bahrain who created the better chances but I think that we played really well for seventy odd minutes. Yes, we did shorten the game up and played long balls towards the last fifteen minutes or so but that was what we discussed during the break,” he added.
Accepting that the Bahrain squad possessed more quality, Jamie said, “We also created some good chances. I think our best chance came from a throw in but unfortunately, we were not clinical enough to take it. Bahrain had the quality in areas that mattered and we didn’t. I think we’ve done extremely well but lacked that bit of quality when needed to make it count. But overall, I’m pleased with the effort.”
In the first match of the day, Palestine thumped Sri Lanka 9-0 at the same stadium and rocketed off the start line. Palestine now sit firmly at the top of the group with 3 points and a +9 goal difference. Bahrain go second with the same points but a goal difference of only +1. Bangladesh settle in at number three with no points but a superior goal difference of -1 to Sri Lanka’s-9.
Bangladesh will play their remaining group matches against Palestine and Sri Lanka on March 24 and 26 respectively at the same venue.