SAFF Champs: Bangladesh on way to semifinal; beat Pakistan 1-0
Bangladesh have almost assured a semifinal berth in the seven-nation SAFF Suzuki Cup with a 1-0 goal victory against Pakistan in a hard-fought Group A match under floodlight and amid huge cheers from some 18,000 crowd at Bangabandhu National Stadium on Thursday.
Veteran defender Topu Barman scored the match winner for Bangladesh by a close range cool header that kissed the Pakistani net through the right corner.
With the feat, Bangladesh topped the group list with all-win record securing full six points from two matches after making a 2-0 win over Bhutan, which have already been eliminated from the meet.
Despite the defeat, Pakistan also remained in the race for the semifinal with three points from two matches with a 2-1 win over Nepal in the tournament opener.
Pakistan have a chance to reach the semifinals if they could manage a win against Bhutan and Bangladesh either beat Nepal or draw in their next group matches, both on Saturday (September8).
In the day’s match, Pakistan defended almost all the time with quick counterattack strategy while Bangladesh continued the forceful game by keeping 61.1 percent ball position.
Bangladesh missed some chances in the second half. In the 69th minute, Masuk Miah Zoni took a header from the centre of the box off a Waly Faisal cross but went high and wide to the right post.
Forward Biplu Ahmed took a right-footed shot from outside the box, but the ball went straight to the grip of the goalie in the 58th minute.
Pakistan forward Muhammad Ali took a right-footed shot from the centre of the box only to go over edging the top right corner of the crosspiece in the 55th minute.
Pakistan captain Saddam Hussain missed a chance in the 46th minute as his right-footed shot from outside the box went high and wide to the right.
Earlier in the first half, Bangladesh started to play a forceful game after 10 minutes and made an attempt in the 29th minute as forward Saad Uddin’s right-footed long shot from the left flank went high and wide to the left off a Topu Barman pass.
The hosts continued pressing game and missed two chances as midfielder Masuk Miah Zoni’s right-footed shot from outside the box was blocked by Pakistani defense in the 40th minute before forward Mahbubur Rahman’s right-footed shot from more than 35 yards missed the left in the 42nd minute.
Pakistan created a couple of quick counterattacks in between 20-30 minutes, but Bangladesh defenders foiled all their efforts.
Bangladesh goalie Sahidul Alam saved the post in the 9th minute as he foiled Pakistani forward Muhammad Ali’s header from inside the box, fisting the ball over the crosspiece.
Bangladesh brought two changes in the playing eleven as Shakhawat Hossain Rony and Emon Mahmud came in replacing injured Mahbubur Rahman and Biplu Ahmed respectively.
Pakistan also brought two changes in their playing eleven as Saadullah Khan and Faheem Ahmed replaced injured Mehmood Khan and Muhammad Adil respectively.
Masuk Miah Zoni fouled Pakistani forward Mehmood Khan in the 40th minute and got a yellow card.
Topu Barman was shown a yellow card for excessive celebration pulling off the jersey after scoring the match winning goal.
Pakistan defender Mohsin Ali was shown the yellow card as he committed foul with defender Bishwnath Ghosh.