Hosts' winning start
A brace from Mamunur Rahman gave Bangladesh a winning start in the hockey competition of the 11th South Asian (SA) Games when they handed a 3-1 defeat to Sri Lanka at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium yesterday.
Kamruzzaman netted the other for the hosts while Mulaffer struck the consolation goal for the Lankans, who handed a 1-0 defeat to Bangladesh in the Colombo SA Games in 2006 to win the bronze medal.
The scoreline may give an impression of an easy win for the hosts, but it wasn't so. The team which has been prepared for over a year under the supervision of German coach Gerhard Peter Rach, appeared very nervous from the beginning, giving plenty of miss passes while playing in a defensive mode.
"It was our first match for some time and we all were a bit nervous but we recovered well in the second half and won the game convincingly," said captain Moshiur Rahman after the match.
Coach Gerhard, however, appeared satisfied with the performance, though he declined to say anything when he was asked about his players' nervousness.
Bangladesh showed signs of a planned game in the first half and took 32 minutes to take the lead, but that did not come before facing some scares from the Sri Lankans, who put up a spirited show throughout the game.
Snatching penalty corners and converting them is regarded as the strength of Bangladesh, but during this game it seemed they had forgotten it and instead gone for field goal.
Bangladesh, though, went in front with a goal from penalty-corner, converted by Mamun after Rasel Mahmud and Kamruzzaman combined to create the opportunity three minutes from the break.
The joy of the hosts lasted only two minutes as Sri Lanka drew level through Mulaffer ran down from the middle to enter the box before letting loose a fierce hit past Bangladesh keeper Kiron.
After the breather, Bangladesh looked more organised and controlled the midfield to threaten the solid backline of Sri Lanka. Five minutes into the second half, Mulaffer almost found the back of Bangladesh net again with a clever hit, but Mamun made a goalline save.
Bangladesh then stepped up the attack to go close twice before Mamun converted a penalty corner to give Bangladesh the lead again in the 55th minute. After going down, Sri Lanka went all out, but could not create any chances, in spite conceded a third goal in the 60th minute.
This time, Mahmud let loose a hit from just outside the pocket to Kamruzzaman who pushed the ball home to make the result safe.
In the day's first match, favourites India thumped Nepal 21-0 after dominating the first half 10-0 at the same venue.
Captain Ajitesh scored five, Mohammad and Yuraj netted three each, Hamza, Ragunath and Promod scored two each and Belsajar, Innocent, Dhramv and Roshan struck one goal apiece.