Hosts hold Tajikistan | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 09, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 09, 2007

Hosts hold Tajikistan


Bangladesh's goal scorer Mithu (2nd from L) waits for fellow striker Emily (No. 10) to send the decisive pass from a goalmouth scramble during their World Cup pre-qualifier against Tajikistan at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.Photo: STAR

Be it football or a game of cricket, Bangladesh tend to do the unexpected when there is no burden of expectations.
Having trained against all odds, the national football team once again proved the critics wrong when they held Tajikistan to a 1-1 draw in the 2010 World Cup pre-qualifier yesterday.
However, Syed Nayeemuddin's experimental and young side were so impressive that they could have won the match against a side that had handed Bangladesh their biggest ever home defeat at the same old Bangabandhu National Stadium last year.
Incessant rain and an almost waterlogged pitch might have helped Bangladesh's purposes but it alone cannot take away the credit as the booters played throughout the 90 minutes at the same pace without tiring at all.
Jumratul Islam Mithu scored on his full international debut after a barren first half but an hour's hard work was spoiled when Zahid Hossain's clumsy challenge inside the box gifted a penalty to the visitors, who equalised through Numondzhon Hakimov.
The Tajiks, favourites in the pre-qualifiers, came to the game with a hundred percent record against Bangladesh after winning both their 2006 World Cup pre-qualifiers by identical margins of 2-0 and last year's AFC Challenge Cup match 6-1.
However, the inaugural Challenge Cup winners looked a shadow of the last year's team and struggled in unfamiliar conditions.
It were the home side, who had hardly a few hundred fans watching the game, rushed first blood when Mithu's teasing cross was held by rival goalkeeper Mukanin in his second attempt under pressure from Emily.
The Bangladesh backline stood firm against a few corners and Farkhod Vasiev's blistering freekick that whistled past Biplab's post before the touring defence was tested by Zahid.
The young winger raced down the right to cut back a low cross but Moni mishit the chance at the near post.
Mithu provided another fine centre from the left but Zahid's header from ten yards was too weak to trouble Mukanin just seconds before the short whistle.
Mukanin made a fine save when his reflex denied a superb header by Arman Aziz two minutes after the restart. Bangladesh maintained the pressure but Abul's effort inside from the area was deflected by a rival defender.
The resulting corner in the 50th minute saw Nayeemuddin's boys go ahead but not before a comedy of errors. Abul and Emily both shot the ball twice in a long melee only to be denied by the defensive wall but Emily's diagonal pass finally found Mithu who back-flicked home from close.
The lead was short lived as Zahid unnecessarily pushed substitute Dilshod Vasiev, who never looked threatening enough at the far corner of the penalty box.
Hakimov, who had scored one goal against Bangladesh during their visit in 2006, kept his cool and drilled a low drive into the back of the net from the spot for a valuable away goal ahead of the second leg match to be held in Tajik capital Dushanbe on October 28.
Abul had a great chance to seal the victory for Bangladesh afterwards but the midfielder hammered the ball onto a defensive wall while goalkeeper Mukanin palmed away Moni's curling freekick in the remaining time.
TEAMS
BANGLADESH:
Biplab, Hassan Al Mamun (Shuvra, 90th minute), Nazrul, Rajani, Wali, Zahid (Sharif, 62), Arman Aziz, Abul, Mithu, Emily and Moni.
TAJIKISTAN: Mukanin, Karimov, Farkhod Vasiev, Rustamov, Choriev, Barotov (Fatkhuloev, 64), Dzhabarov, Makhmudov, Ortikov (Dilshod Vasiev, 46), Saidov and Hakimov, 86).
Yellow card: Moni (Bangladesh)

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