The Bangladesh under-23 football team kept their hopes of securing qualification for the second round of the Asian Games alive with a 1-1 draw against Thailand in their second Group B match at the Pakansari Stadium yesterday.
Mahbubur Rahman Sufil gave Bangladesh the lead in the 52nd minute of the game, but a mistake from goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana in the 80th minute condemned them to leaving the field with a share of the spoils.
This draw, coming on the back of the opening game 3-0 defeat against Uzbekistan, means that Bangladesh are third in the four-team group with a single point, ahead of Qatar on goal difference while Thailand, who had scored a stoppage-time equaliser against Qatar the other day, are in second position with two points. Uzbekistan moved through to the knock-out rounds following a 6-0 demolition of Qatar in the second match of the day.
Two teams from each of the six groups plus the four best third-placed teams will qualify for the second round, a stage which Bangladesh last reached in the Doha Asian Games in 2006.
Bangladesh started the game with one change from the first match, with Shushanto Tripua coming in place of left-back Rahmat Mia; however, Bangladesh's defence was hardly troubled by the slow-paced build-up from the Thais.
The best chances of the first half came from Bangladesh and Sufil in particular, who saw his weak effort on a well-played through-ball from Saad Uddin deflect off a Thailand defender in the eighth minute before having his shot scuffed away from inside the box with the goalkeeper out of position and a couple of defenders on the goal line.
It looked like those missed chances would bite Bangladesh when right after the break goalkeeper Rana was stretched to make a parry at the far post, but Thailand forward Saringkan Sarachat could only poke the rebound wide off target.
Sufil, however, made amends four minutes later as he found acres of space inside the box to stab one home after Tapu Barman headed a throw-in from Bishwanath Ghosh right into the middle of the box.
Bangladesh started the game defending pretty deep and they drew themselves deeper right after taking the lead, allowing the Thai players to manoeuvre the ball inside the Bangladesh half. Although Jamie Day's charges defended manfully, it looked like a matter of time until they would concede the lead, and they did in the 80th minute. Rana, who was outstanding against Uzbekistan, was a little too casual as he tried to bounce the ball into the ground after failing to grip a floating attempt from a Thailand winger, but the ball went too far out where substitute forward Supachai Chaided was free, and he slotted the ball home with ease.
Things could have been worse had a shot from Chaiyawat Buran not ricocheted off the post in the 89th minute, but Bangladesh probably feel that they let a great opportunity to grab all three points from this game slip.