Bangladesh make winning start in SAFF

October 2, 2021

Bangladesh made a winning start in the 2021 SAFF Championship as they beat a 10-man Sri Lanka by a solitary goal in the opening match of the five-nation tournament at the National Football Stadium in Male, Maldives on Friday.
This was a rare win for the men in red and green as this was their first win in international football after eight games.
The last time Bangladesh won an international match was when they beat the Kyrgyzstan Under-23 team by a solitary goal in the opening game of the Three-Nations Cup in Kathmandu, Nepal on March 23, 2021.
Sri Lanka were reduced to 10 men as their defender Duckson Puslas was sent off with a second yellow card after committing a handball inside the box, which paved the way for Bangladesh’s winning goal.
Defender Topu Barman made no mistake as the centre-back coolly converted the penalty in the 56th minute and gave his team the decisive lead.
After taking the lead against a 10-man Sri Lanka who are lagging behind Bangladesh in the rankings, Oscar Bruzon’s charges were expected to score more goals but that wasn’t to be.
Forward Biplu Ahmed and midfielder Rakib Hossain missed one chance each few minutes before the final whistle.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, came close to levelling the margin in the 78th minute but forward Razeek Ahmed Waseem’s close range shot was denied by Bangladesh keeper Anisur Rahman Zico.
Bangladesh did better in the first half in terms of creating chances as Sohel Rana and Topu threatened the Lankan defense in the 38th minute and in the stoppage time of the first half.
Bruzon, who replaced regular coach Jamie Day for the tournament, was pretty satisfied with his team’s performance.
‘We got the three points…I am absolutely satisfied with the performance. But we need to be aware in the next game…Physically our team was looking much, more strong,’ said the Spaniard in the post-match press conference.
‘We were consistent and my only worry, to improve our finishers performances. We are going to work on that. If we have more conversion capability, the results could be better.’
Topu, who scored the all-important goal, was happy with the full three points but now he is focusing on their next games.
‘Winning the first match was very much important for us and we achieved our first target. We have three more games in the [league phase] and are now looking to prepare for the next game.’
Bruzon’s Sri Lankan counterpart Amir Alagic claimed that it was an even game until the Syrian referee Feras Taweel spoiled it with the red card.
‘Nothing was wrong with our tem and our performances until the red card…This performance by the referee killed all things, honestly, it was awful [decision]. If we were not 10 [men], we could draw the game,’ said Alagic.
Bangladesh will play their next three games against seven-time champions India, defending champions Maldives and Nepal respectively on October 4, 7 and 13 at the same venue.

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