Bangladesh finished their inaugural SAFF Under-18 Championship on high thanks to their clinical 2-0 win over hosts Bhutan at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimpu on Wednesday.
Winger Jafar Iqbal came off the bench to score two stunning late goals to help Bangladesh break the shackle and secure their third win in the tournament in four matches.The win, however, was not enough for Bangladesh to clinch the title as Nepal beat India 2-0 in the second match of the tournament to emerge as champions.
Bangladesh would have been champions if India had won the game or the game had ended in a draw. But Nepal, the only side to beat Bangladesh in the tournament, struck in second and 37 minutes to dash their hopes.
Though Bangladesh failed to win the title they did what they could do best against Bhutan, putting up a spirited performance to win the game deservedly.
Jafar, who scored three goals in first three matches, broke the deadlock with a solo effort in the 81st minute before sealing the victory with another great finish three minutes later.
The first half was barren though Bangladesh maintained their dominance from the beginning against the home side, which appeared to have taken a negative approach playing with a defensive formation.
Bhutan’s Japanese coach played a defensive formation of 4-1-4-1 which left little room for Bangladesh’s attacking third.
Bangladesh coach Mahbub Hossain, on the other hand, tried Mohammed Shwadhin to protect his main weapon Jafar for the second half.
In the second half, Bangladesh put immense pressure on opponents’ defence but Bhutan goalkeeper Karma Sonam denied them on quite a few occasions.
Jafar, who came off the bench in the 54th minute in place of Shwadhin, led the attacking third and created a host of attacks.
In the 67th minute, Jafar saw his powerful effort from outside the box was blocked by Sonam, who later produced another stunning save to deny Mahbub Hossain Sufil’s placing on a rebounder.
Bhutan goalie made another save four minutes later as Mohammad Munna saw his short-range effort was superbly blocked by Sonam.
When Bangladesh’s repeated attempt went in vain, Jafar took the matter in his hands snatching the ball in the right flank to make a brilliant run and finish in a manner that would make any striker proud.
Receiving a pass from Rahamat, Jafar ran past his marker and darted into the right corner of the penalty area before unleashing a neat angular shot that beat Bhutan keeper to find the left corner of the net.
Jafar couldn’t hide his excitement after scoring the deserving goal and immediately received a yellow card after putting his jersey off.
Jafar brought another joyful moment for Bangladesh moments later with another brilliant finish, this time from the left side with his left-foot.
After Munna provided him a great pass on the edge of the box, Jafar broke into the penalty area and dodged past his marker with great skill before slotting home into the left corner of the box.
-With New Age input