Bangladesh crash out of SAFF Championship

Bangladesh suffered a fighting 1-0 goal defeat to superior Kuwait to exit the Bangabandhu SAFF Championship from the first semifinal held today (Saturday) at Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru, India.

Right-back Al-Buloushi broke the heart of Bangladesh fans scoring the all-important goal for Kuwait in the 105+2nd minute after the 90 minutes of regulation time failed to break the deadlock ending in a goalless draw.

Kuwait, the invited team of the tournament, will now play the final against second semifinal winners’ either India or Lebanon on Tuesday (July 4) at the same venue.

In terms of strength Kuwait is much superior than Bangladesh, but the boys in red and green showed impressive display throughout the match.

They not only foiled Kuwait’s scoring chances, but also put Kuwait under Test several occasions creating some real scoring chances in the proceeding.

Goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico, who was superb under the bar, made excellent saves throughout the match. Zico has no responsibility for this goal. When the ball entered the net there was nothing he could do but stare at the ball. He made some great saves in extra time as well.

Kuwait dominated almost the entire first half of extra time. The extra time saw Kuwait were desperate to take the lead, but goalkeeper Zico stood firm as the Bangladesh No. 1 custodian frustrated Kuwaiti forwards several times in the match.

Center-back Tariq Kazi returned to Bangladesh playing eleven while Rahmat Mia sits out. The remaining line-up is unchanged from the one that played Bhutan.

The easiest chance of the match came in the second minute in front of Bangladesh. Cabrera’s men could have gone ahead if Morsalin, the young footballer, could use the opportunity. Forward Rakib Hossain ran down from the right flank and provided an accurate square pass Sheikh Morsalin, who, despite being alone inside the opposition danger zone, could only shoot it right at the Kuwait goalkeeper.

Bangladesh also survived a major scare in the first 5th minute of the game when a header from a Kuwait forward had to be cleared just ahead of the goalline by Isa Faisal.

Bangladesh goalkeeper Zico also made a brilliant save in the 29th minute when a well-judged cross from Kuwait forward Al Rashidi from the left seemed to be heading towards the net and Zico had to punch the ball for safety.

In the next minute, Bangladesh also got an opportunity to take lead when Jamal Bhuyan provided a measured cross to Rakib from the left, but Rakib could not take the head despite standing at the vantage position.

Bangladesh’s second best chance came in the 60th minute. Following a linked-up attack, Morsalin provided a through pass to Rakib, who took a right footer shot from the narrow angle but the ball went out of play after hitting the cross bar.

After the regulation time when it was seemed the match were heading tiebreakers, Kuwait were able to break the deadlock as right-back Al Buloushi sent the ball to the net with a grounded shot at the bottom far post, striking between the legs of Tapu Borman.

The remaining proceeding saw Bangladesh tried heart and soul by creating some close chances, but they failed to convert any lacks of proper finishing.

Bangladesh, who won the championship in 2003, earlier lost their opening game in Group B against Lebanon 2-0 but staged a brilliant fight back with a 3-1 win over Maldives before sealed a second-spot finish in the group with a 3-1 win against lowly Bhutan.

On the other hand, Kuwait, ranked 143 in FIFA ranking, opened their campaign with a 3-1 win over Nepal, crushed Pakistan 4-0 drubbing before drawing 1-1 with tournament favourites host India.  -BSS

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