Bangladesh put up a much improved performance against Japan but still sustained a 3-0 defeat in their second match of the AFC U-16 Women's Championship at the Institute of Physical Education Stadium in the Thai province of Chonburi today.
Bangladesh made two changes to the squad that lost 9-0 to North Korea in the first match with goalkeeper Mahmuda Akter and midfielder Monica Chakma replacing Ruksana Begum and defender Nargis Khatun. And the team looked much more confident than in the previous match after shrugging off the initial shakiness.
It was encouraging to see the Bangladeshis complete five or six passes and even sporadically mount an attack while their defensive line blocked the Japanese in the middle of their own half and sometimes even went up to the half-way line when Bangladesh had possession in the attacking third.
The decision to bring back Akhi Khatun to the backline proved to be a wise one as the tall girl, alongside Masura Parvin, Shamsunnahar, Sheuli Azim and Sanjida Akter hardly broke down in the face of pressure and kept a clean sheet for the rest of the match after conceding a third goal in the 39th minute.
The margin could have been even bigger were it not for first-choice goalkeeper Mahmuda, who put up brilliant performances and thwarted a lot of chances. She was also superb in one-on-one situations, where she denied the Japanese four or five times.
The result is much better compared to that of their previous match and a far cry from the 24-0 drubbing they had received at the hands of the same opposition in the 2005 AFC U-17 Women's Championship.