The ghosts of Kathmandu came back to haunt Bangladesh yet again as Sunil Chhetri's double strike and a highly controversial disallowed goal meant Bangladesh were held to a 2-2 draw by hosts India in their FIFA International Friendly at the Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Margao, Goa yesterday.
Sunil Chhetri's 95th minute free-kick, earned controversially, had helped India hold Bangladesh to a 1-1 draw last September in the SAFF Championship. Acts from that match were played out again in Margao yesterday as Chettri scored a stoppage time equaliser before the referee controversially disallowed a goal from Toklish Ahmed to deny a historic win over the Indians in 11 years.
At 2-2, with still three minutes of stoppage time to play for, both teams went for the jugular in search of a winner. And even though the Indians applied most pressure, Bangladesh found the back of the net in the 95th minute, only to be disallowed by the Indian referee. Substitute striker Toklish Ahmed had raced on to a ball from a counter-attack when he was challenged outside the box by Indian goalkeeper Subrata Paul. Toklish did brilliantly well to quickly get up to his feet and slot the ball at the back of the net, but the Indian referee, instead of playing advantage, blew the whistle for a foul and disallowed a deserving winner for Bangladesh. Goalkeeper Paul was given the marching orders for his reckless challenge but that did little to help Bangladesh's cause as there was only a minute of play left. Skipper Mamunul Islam took the resulting free-kick which was headed wide by veteran Zahid Hasan Emily.
That brought an end to 95 minutes of entertaining football, which should have ended in a Bangladesh win. But on the basis of performance Bangladesh probably did not deserve the victory. They were under the cosh from the hosts in the first half hour which saw the Indians take the lead through Chhetri in the 14th minute. The Bangladesh team, playing in a 4-3-3 formation with Emily playing up front and Mithun and Hemanta Biswas on the wings, started to take control of the game after the half-hour mark. Mamunul, Sohel Rana and Jamal Bhuiyan marshalled the midfield and their good work paid off in the 51st minute when Sohel Rana's low cross from the left was let through by Hemanta and an unmarked Mithun stabbed it home. The second goal came 13 minutes later when Hemanta's dangerous, curving cross was slotted into his own net by Indian defender Arnob Mandal.
But having taken the lead, Bangladesh took the foot off the gas and allowed India to attack, forcing a lot of mistakes in defence. And those mistakes led to Chhetri's equaliser when all Bangladesh needed was to keep possession.
BANGLADESH: Sahidul Alam Shohel(GK), Raihan Hasan, Nasiruddin, Yeasin Khan, Atiqur Rahman Meshu, Jamal Bhuiyan, Mithun Chowdary (Tokhlish Ahmed), Mamunul Islam(C), Zahid Hasan Emily, Hemanta Biswas, Sohel Rana (Mohammad Linkon)