2018 in Review: A year of renewed promise for men’s football

December 19, 2018

Despite many ups and downs, 2018 was more or less a successful year for the men’s national teams of all age groups. In January, the BFF stated that 2018 was going to be a brighter year based on the performances of 2017 and the players did not disappoint. In recent years, the women’s football teams have seemingly been making all the headlines. However, the male footballers, specially the age-level teams, displayed some scintillating performances in 2018 injecting renewed belief in the country’s football arena about the prospects of men’s football of Bangladesh.


U15 boys become unbeaten SAFF Champions

Bangladesh U15 national team won the SAFF U15 Championship 2018 by beating Pakistan in the final in Kathmandu, Nepal on November 3.

The Red and Greens beat Pakistan 3-2 on penalties after the match had ended 1-1 at the end of regulation time. Heroic goalkeeping from goalkeeper Mehedi Hasan handed Bangladesh the trophy who saved three of Pakistan’s 5 penalty kicks.

Earlier, the team beat India in the semifinal in penalties too.

The U15 boys showed great determination, courage and self-belief to win back to back matches on penalties and win the SAFF trophy for their country.

Bangladesh found some talented player through this tournament like central attacking midfielder Nihat Jaman Ucchash, skipper Mahedi Hasan and goalkeeper Mehedi Hasan.

This was Bangladesh’s second championship from a total of five editions of the tournament. The boys had won their first trophy of in the third edition of the tournament back in 2015, the last edition when players from U16 age group rather than U15 took part in the tournament.


U15 boys shine in UEFA friendly tournament

In the last men’s tournament of the year, the U15 boys again proved their mettle when they took part in the UEFA U-15 Men’s Youth Tournament 2018.

Under the UEFA assist mini tournament project, the Red and Greens played against European side Cyprus, hosts Thailand and South Asian counterparts Maldives in Project Buriram at Buriram, Thailand.

Even though the team went down 4-0 to strong Cyprus in their first match, the boys bounced back to hold Thailand to a 1-1 draw in the second game and were unlucky to not claim the full three points.

Then in the final match, Bangladesh dismantled Maldives 10-0 to top off a fruitful tournament. The margin could have been bigger had the boys did not squander many easy opportunities.

Nevertheless, the boys continue to grow under the umbrella of BFF. This tournament also gave rise to some more young talents like Helal Ahmed who captained the side for the first time against Maldives and led the team from the front by scoring a hattrick.

The Bangladesh Football Federation has already undertaken a plan to bring some of the selected U15 players under central contract. BFF President Kazi Md Salahuddin revealed the plan while meeting the Bangladesh U15 national team that won the SAFF U15 Championship 2018 held in Nepal.

As a part of BFF plans to develop talented players from the grassroots, it will bring some the selected players from this team under central BFF contract following a one-month training at the Sylhet BKSP.

The duration of the contract will be three years and the players will receive monthly salary.


Bangladesh bow out of Asian Games with heads held high

Bangladesh bowed out of Asian Games 2018 after their 1-3 loss against Democratic People’s Republic (DPR) of Korea aka North Korea on August 24.

The Red and Greens fought hard till the final whistle but the class of the Koreans was just too much for the inexperienced U23 side to overcome.

It was the first time in their history that Bangladesh made it to the Round of 16 of the Asian Games. And the goal from Saad Uddin came as more than a consolation as the players proved that the name and stature of the opponent or the scoreline is not going to bother this young bunch of players from giving it their all till the final whistle, not anymore.

Before that match, Bangladesh had famously beaten Qatar 1-0 thanks to an extra-time goal by skipper Jamal Bhuiyan to give Bangladesh an unprecedented Asian Games Round of 16 birth. In the group stage, Bangladesh had lost 3-0 to Uzbekistan, drew 1-1 with Thailand before beating a strong Qatar side.

This cameo run in the Asian Games was another pointer that Bangladesh’s men’s football is moving in the right direction.


Promising SAFF campaign marred by luck

A SAFF campaign that could have been a dream for Bangladesh football turned into a nightmare on September 8.

After two brilliant victories in the first two matches, Bangladesh crashed out of SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 on goal difference after losing to Nepal in the third and final game.

The hosts suffered a 2-0 defeat to Nepal at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka in the third and final group game. Bangladesh played good football throughout the match but could take their chances.

Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan all had 6 points each but a superior goal difference saw Nepal top the group with Pakistan through to semifinals as runners-up and Bangladesh crashing out of the competition with the worst goal difference.

Earlier, Bangladesh had beaten Bhutan 2-0 and Pakistan 1-0 to top Group A before the last match day of the group.

In the end, the Maldives won their second SAFF Championship trophy by beating India 2-1 in the final of the SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018.


Bangladesh make it to semis of Bangabandhu Gold Cup 2018

Team Bangladesh bowed out of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup 2018 after suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of a strong Palestine side on October 10.

The men in red and green gave it their all but Palestine was just too tough a hurdle to overcome.

In the group stage, Bangladesh had beaten Laos 1-0 and lost to Philippines 0-1.

Eventually, Palestine claimed the trophy of Bangabandhu Gold Cup 2018 beating Tajikistan 4-3 on penalties after the final had finished 0-0.


Apart from these notable tournaments, Bangladesh men’s teams played some brilliant football in friendly matches and tournaments throughout 2018 cementing the renewed belief that Bangladesh will roar again in men’s football and that day is not too far away.

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