Isa Town: A resilient defence and fast counter-attacks were not enough to get Bangladesh at least a point in their second Group B match of the AFC U23 qualifiers.
Jamie’s men did put on a good show as he promised a day earlier but were unlucky not to avoid defeat.
Bangladesh U23 national team suffered a narrow loss again, this time to Palestine, despite playing really good football at the Khalifa Sports City Stadium in Isa Town, Bahrain on Sunday evening.
The Red and Greens took to the pitch with a defensive attitude as head coach Jamie Day fielded six designated defenders in the starting eleven.
Palestine, who scored netted nine times against Sri Lanka, started on the front foot putting the Bangladesh defence under pressure.
However, the Bangladesh backline did not crumble under pressure. They showed better resilience than the first match against Bahrain and kept the Palestine attackers at bay till the 21st minute.
Unable to go past the Bangladesh defence, Palestinian forward Hani Abdallah let one fly with his right foot in the 22nd minute and the ball flew past a diving Pappu Hossain who could not stop the ball from hitting the top-left corner of his net.
After falling behind, Bangladesh changed their approach a little and tried to take the game to the Palestinians.
The tactic showed some results as the Palestine attack went down a notch.
After break, Jamie’s men went on the offensive and started to create serious problems for the Palestine defence.
Bangladesh played 3 man at the back in the second half just like the Bahrain game and took control of the match.
All the Bangladeshi supporters in the gallery, mainly Bangladeshi expatriates to Bahrain, were cheering the Red and Greens during every attack.
The changes Jamie made in the second half, were also indicating a shift of mentality in the Bangladesh camp. In the 55th minute, Jamie sent in midfielder Matin Miah for Mohammad Al-Amin. The Briton later, sent in two forwards in place of two midfielders in a last gasp attempt to find an equalizer.
Jamie’s tactics almost paid of in the 70th minute when number 10 Mahbubur Rahman Sufil showed what he is made of in a scintillating counter attack.
After the Bangladesh defence thwarted another Palestinian build-up, Sufil was free to run to a brilliant through ball on the left flank.
Showing a glimpse of his pace, Sufil took the ball under his stride and with the outside of his right foot, sent in a delicious through, cancelling out 3 defenders with one pass, for substitute Matin Miah.
Matin did everything right to go around the Palestine goalkeeper but his weak left footed shot was cleared just a couple yard from the goal line by a Palestinian defender.
Bangladesh created some more chances on the counter-attack and long Bangladeshi throw-ins posed a constant threat to the Palestinians. But Bangladesh were again left to rue lack of clinical finishing which is costing them big.
Bangladesh, however, showed just what they are capable of when they play without fear of the stature of the opponent.
Bangladesh competed toe to toe with Palestine despite a gulf of difference in the two sides’ FIFA international ranking (Bangladesh 192 and Palestine 100).
The Red and Greens will take many positives from this game into the last match against Sri Lanka.
And the fans back home will be hoping that the U23 boys can come back home with at least a win under their sleeve.
The Bangladesh-Sri Lanka match will kick-off at the Khalifa Sports City Stadium in Isa Town, Bahrain at 7:00pm Bangladesh time on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
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