SAFF Suzuki Cup: Bangladesh off to flying start; beat Bhutan 2-0
Hosts Bangladesh got off to a flying start in the seven-nation 12th SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018, the biggest soccer carnival of the region, beating Himalayan nation Bhutan by 2-0 goals in the 2nd opening day match at the country’s premier sports venue -- Bangabandhu National Stadium – in the capital on Tuesday.
With the day’s feat, Bangladesh not only took revenge of their frustrating 1-3 goals defeat against Bhutan in the ACC Asia Cup Qualifiers in Thimphu in 2016 to refrain from international football for 17 months but also brightened their chance to reach semifinals from Group A obtaining full three points from the first engagement.
In the previous SAFF Championship in India in 2015, Bangladesh outplayed Bhutan by 3-0 goals to record their 8th win in eleven encounters.
Bangladesh, which were eliminated from the group stage of the last three SAFF Championships after winning the title 15 years ago in 2003, displayed a good brand of football on their way to long-cherished SAFF mission.
In the day’s match, veteran defender Topu Barman scored the first goal for Bangladesh in the very 3rd minute from a penalty amid huge cheers from home crowd (1-0).
Bangladesh awarded the spot kick when their onrushing Atiqur Rahman Fahad was fouled by Bhutanese defender Tshering Dirji in the danger zone while trying to tackle a corner kick of Waly Faisal from right wing.
Finally, Topu Barman did no mistake to convert a penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner of the post. Tshering Dirji was also cautioned with a yellow card for the offence.
Teenaged striker Mahbubur Rahman Sufil sealed the fate of the match in the very 2nd minute of the 2nd half (47th minute) by an angular volley shot from the right wing (2-0).
There was a huge crowd in the stadium after a long time to witness the match.
Though the host sides had less ball position -- 39.7 percent-- compared Bhutan, they took their expected win job greatly.
There was a little rain after 60 minutes of the game, but the local spectators continued to enjoy the game support the team defying the odd.
Bangladesh brought three changes in their playing eleven in the second half as Emon Mahmud, Faisal Mahmud and Mamunul Islam came in replacing Masuk Miah Zoni, Saad Uddin and Faisal Mahmud respectively.
Bhutan also brought three changes in their eleven as Choki Wangc, Tsenda Dorji and Kingay Rabgay replaced Tshering Samdup, Galey Zangpo and Kencho Tobgay respectively.
Bangladesh put pressure from the very beginning of the match and drew applaud of the local crowd at the Bangabandhu Stadium, which got a huge number of spectators after a long time.
Earlier, in the tournament opener on the day, Pakistan got a 2-1 margin victory against Nepal at the same venue.
After the day’s win, Bangladesh topped the Group A list ahead of Pakistan by virtue of better goal difference.
In the remaining Group A matches, Bangladesh will play Pakistan on Thursday (Sept 6) at 7 pm and meet Nepal on Saturday (Sept 8) at the same time.
On Wednesday, defending champions India will take on Sri Lanka in the Group ‘B’ battle at 7 pm.