THIS ONE IS SECURED: Flamboyant Bangladesh striker Enamul Haque (L) runs for joy after scoring his second goal in the home side's 2-1 win over Sri Lanka in a crucial Group B match of the SAFF Championship at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday. Bangladesh advanced in to the semifinals as group champions. Photo: Anisur Rahman
Bangladesh coach Shahidur Rahman Shantoo expressed his pleasure at advancing to the semifinals as champions from Group B after his charges beat Sri Lanka 2-1 in their last group match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
He termed this victory a result of teamwork and said that his midfielders were in fine rhythm compared to the match against Pakistan.
"The match was very exciting and both sides played well, but we came out on top mainly because of our midfielders who had a much better match compared to the previous one," said Shantoo at the post-match briefing.
"We switched to 2-6-2 from the previous formation to strengthen the midfield and reaped the rewards. I appreciate the way the boys came back after the show against Pakistan and I think this type of approach will help us in the semifinal," said the former Bangladesh goalkeeper.
Bangladesh striker Enamul Haque who has scored four goals to make Bangladesh advance so far in the tournament could not satisfy the coach fully and he expects more from his ace hitman.
"You only see his four goals, but not how many chances he has missed. I will say he is up to the mark when he can avail most of the scoring chances," said Shantoo.
Bangladesh were under pressure after Pakistan thumped Bhutan 7-0 in the day's first match, forcing Bangladesh to pick up at least a point against Sri Lanka, who had already advanced to the last four with two victories.
"No, whatever happened in the match between Pakistan and Bhutan did not put us under undue pressure. We were confident of getting a point against Sri Lanka and tried to concentrate on the match," said Shantoo.
The Bangladesh coach has no liking about who he wants to face in the semifinals. He said he would be happy to take on any side from the other group.
Shantoo's counterpart Sri Lanka trainer Sumith Walpola said that they had rested six regular players due to injuries and also keeping in mind the semifinal match that will be played on Friday.
"Bangladesh were the better side than us today. Though, we played well despite not fielding six of our first-team players," said Walpola adding that their early semifinal berth played a part in resting those players.
Walpola also informed that he took off his best striker Kasun Jayasuriya in the latter part of the game following his booking.
As Shantoo, Walpola too has no choice over the semifinal opponents as his side are ready to take any one of India, Maldives or Nepal.
BANGLADESH: Aminul Haque, Nasirul Islam, Ariful Islam, Rajani Kanta Barman, Wali Faisal, Atiqur Rahman Mishu, Mamunul Islam, Zahed Parvez Chowdhury, Mehdi Hasan Uzzal (Shahedul Alam), Enamul Haque (Abdul Baten Komol), Zahid Hasan Emily (Mithun Chowdhury).
SRI LANKA: Thrusha Rangana (Duddley Steinwall), Sanoj Sameera Perera, Sanjaya Pradeem Kumara, Kasun Jayasuriya (Bandara), E B Channa, , Ajith Kumara, Dumidu Hettiarachchi, WRD Ruwanthilaka, MNM Izzadeen, Thilana Suranda Bandara (Tharaka Silva), Chathura Gunaratne.
Yellow Cards: Jayasuriaya, Sameera Perera (Sri Lanka), Nasir (Bangladesh)
Referee: Adil Ali (Maldives)