Bangladesh win first trophy abroad
Bangladesh maintained their supremacy over the lesser Asian nations when the favourites bagged the 3rd Men's AHF Cup hockey title yesterday with a 6-1 thrashing of Oman in the final in Singapore.
This time, Bangladesh -- who lifted the qualifying tournament for the Asian Games at home back in 2006 -- proved best among the nine teams that competed for the two Asia Cup qualifying spots.
After a tight semifinal against Sri Lanka that Bangladesh won 2-1 on Saturday, Mahbub Harun's men fired on all cylinders against Oman and took a 3-1 first half lead on way to win their first ever trophy abroad.
The goals came early and Bangladesh, who finished seventh in the last Asia Cup, utilised their first penalty corner when two-goal Mamunur Rahman Chayan, the short-corner specialist of the team, set Zahidul Islam Rajan to open the scoring.
Mamun joined the party and converted both his goals from penalty corners before Oman pulled one goal back before halftime.
It was all Bangladesh in the second half and vice-captain Russel Mahmud Jimmy, adjudged player of the tournament, was inspirational.
Jimmy, who was not on the scoring sheet, was used as the centre-half after Musa Mia -- who had scored Bangladesh's opening goal against Sri Lanka -- was pulled off following a hamstring injury and the Abahani playmaker created the field goals for Sheikh Nannu, Krishna Kumar and Remon Kumar.
"Jimmy deserved this award," told Mahbub Harun to The Daily Star last night over phone.
"We played the final with great authority and Jimmy did an excellent job in the midfield when I put him there after losing Musa after 15 minutes.
"Jimmy gave all the passes for the last three goals but I congratulate the whole team for an outstanding performance throughout the competition," the former Bangladesh international midfielder added.
Bangladesh defeated Brunei 6-1, drew 1-1 with hosts Singapore and crushed Uzbekistan 8-3 in their group before toppling Sri Lanka in the semis to confirm a qualification berth for the Asia Cup along with Oman.
"We knew that four teams will qualify for the Asia Cup. But after arriving in Singapore, we came to know that only the top two teams will go through," informed Mahbub.
"We were in real trouble in the Singapore match as the officials gave controversial decisions throughout the match. We were playing against 13 men but my boys held on to the task.
"(Khondokar) Hassan received severe injury against Singapore and needed seven stitches. I missed him for the last three matches. But all the 16 players I have used proved their potential.
"This is our first trophy on foreign soil and it is a great achievement. But one thing looks certain that although our standard remains the same other teams are vastly improving. Unless the government takes hockey seriously and make long-term planning, we will lag behind.
"I will also thank Dhaka Bank personally because we might have not make this trip without their sponsorship."
Bangladesh will return home tomorrow.