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SAFF Championship: Bangladesh lose to Maldives but stay alive for final

  • Sports Correspondent
  • 8th October, 2021 12:55:30 AM
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SAFF Championship: Bangladesh lose to Maldives but stay alive for final

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Bangladesh tasted their first defeat to hosts and defending champions Maldives by 0-2 goals in their third match of the ongoing SAFF Championship at the crowded National Stadium in Male on Thursday night.

Forwards Hamza Mohamad and Ali Ashfaq scored one goal each for the home team in the 55th and 74th minutes.

Though the men in red and green lost points but still remained at the second slot of the point table with the previous credit of 4 points from one win and one draw, following Nepal who had 6 points from two wins.

Now, Bangladesh have to beat Nepal in their fourth and last group match to qualify for the final on October 13 at the same venue at 5 pm.

Hosts Maldives opened their account with the day's win but were placed third with 3 points from one defeat and one win, one point ahead of the tournament favourite India who had 2 points from two consecutive draws. 

The bottom-placed Sri Lanka also opened their account as they shared points with India after a goalless draw in the day’s other match at the same venue.

However, Bangladesh, who were full of confidence after the India draw in their previous match, successfully defended Maldives throughout the first half. 

The Maldivian attacking side, led by their star forward Ashfaq, faced the tough defense from Bangladesh. Their three close chances were wasted by goalkeeper Zico and other defenders.

Hussain shot the target off in the 29th minute, Fasir’s close volley was intercepted by Rahmat in the 45th minute and Ashfaq’s direct set piece was denied by Zico in the injury time.

Bangladesh got the first blow while Hamza sent the ball home with an amazing bicycle kick from goalmouth melee (1-0).

After conceding the first goal, Bangladesh made some attacks but failed to equal the margin.

In the meantime, veteran midfielder Sohel Rana made a mistake as he illegally dragged Naiz Hassan to haul him to the ground. Referee Saeed Hasan awarded the hosts a penalty.

Earlier, Bangladesh's Bishwanath Ghosh made the same mistake during the match against India. Though Sohel didn't get the marching order like him, his mistake confirmed the victory for Maldives who came to play the game to win.

The veteran forward Asfaq successfully converted the spot kick to keep hope alive for finals for his side (2-0).

However, the match saw five Bangladeshi players --  Arafat, Tariq, Ibrahim, Jewel, Jamal  and one Maldivian player Hamza  -- to concede yellow cards.