‘Bittersweet’ birthday for U-18 hero Jafar

Bangladesh’s SAFF Under-18 Championship hero Jafar Iqbal celebrated his 18th birthday in a low-key manner on Wednesday after his heroic performance against hosts Bhutan went in vain.
Bangladesh failed to grab the title of the tournament despite Jafar’s two-goal helped the side beat hosts Bhutan 2-0 in their final match.Nepal beat India 2-0 in the following match to leave Bangladesh satisfied with runners-up title.
The result of the India-Nepal match spoiled the night for Jafar, the top scorer of the tournament with five goals, who was hoping to celebrate his birthday with the championship trophy.
Speaking to New Age over phone from Thimpu, Jafar, the new sensation of success-hungry Bangladesh,
said he spent a sleepless night after the match despite his personal accomplishment.
‘I could be happier if we had won the title and it could have been the best ever birthday gift in my entire life,’ Jafar said.
‘It was really frustrating not to win the title. After a clinical 2-0 win against the home side, we thought India would give their best to beat Nepal. But we saw India didn’t give their full effort, which costs us the title.’
Jafar also questioned the fixture of the tournament.
‘Usually, the title-deciding matches take place at same time in different venues but here [Bhutan] we saw different things,’ said a disappointed Jafar.
‘If both the matches were held at the same time then India might try their best to win their respective match against Nepal.’
Jafar, however, was satisfied with his own performance.
‘Actually, wherever I play, I try to give my best. Here [Bhutan] I played for my country because I saw at the very ground how our senior team suffered a heartbreaking loss against Bhutan [by 1-3] in the Asian Cup qualification play-off last year,’ said Jafar.
‘That time, I had nothing to do but watch the game from the bench. But this time I took the chance fully.’
Jafar, who struggled to find a place in the starting line-up of Chittagong Abahani, the table-toppers in the Bangladesh Premier League, refused to think about his club duty for now.
‘Next month we have to take part in the AFC Under-19 Championship qualifiers in Tajikistan. If we can carry our form into that tournament, we have a great chance to qualify. So, now I prefer to think about my national duty rather than club duty,’ he said.
‘I am always ready to perform at any level. If my club coach gives me chance, then I would try my best to help my side,’ said Jafar, who was yet to start for his club this season and played only three matches as a substitute.

-With New Age input

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