Defender Tapu Barman was perhaps the happiest among all on Tuesday night after Bangladesh inflicted a 2-0 defeat on Bhutan in their SAFF Suzuki Cup encounter to exact revenge for their ignominious defeat at the hands of the Himalayan nation two years ago.
The centre-back, who was helpless in stopping the Bhutanese attackers during that infamous defeat, stood tall against the Bhutanese forwards this time. He also played a key role in the win by putting the home side ahead by converting a spot-kick in the third minute.
The way the 24-year-old celebrated the goal by running towards the gallery, jumping in the air to punch his fist, was the evidence of his ecstasy, releasing the pain he was bearing for the last two years.
“I am really happy after the win and had a sound sleep last night. All the players are happy and a feel-good environment is prevailing among the players, who showed perseverance to beat Bhutan. We are relieved as we were away from international football for nearly two years due to that defeat,” Tapu told this reporter at the team hotel yesterday.
“We are happy that we did not disappoint the huge crowd who came to the stadium and supported us tremendously throughout the match,” said the lad from Narayanganj -- the highest paid player of the last season.
Even though Tapu opened the scoring, the game was still within Bhutan's reach before young striker Mahbubur Rahman Sufil took it away from them with a stunning goal right at the start of the second half. The 20-year-old striker did not hide his elation.
“We are all happy with achieving our first target. I can tell you that there was determination among the players because we lagged behind after losing to Bhutan. So we did not want to lose to them again and the only target was to win against them,” said Sufil, who had also scored against Bhutanese opponents during the SAFF U-18 Championship last year.
“I was personally confident that we could beat them as we beat them at age-level. Our confidence increased when we played good football in the Asian Games,” said the Arambagh KS striker.
“I am happy to have scored such a goal. I won't get such opportunities in every match, so I must capitalise on the opportunities that I get to do more for the team,” said the lad from Moulvibazar, who had squandered a one-on-one chance in the seventh minute of the game.
“There is scope for improvement in one-on-one situations. I need to keep my cool in such situations. As a striker I always want to score but I need to improve myself and I am working on it with the coach,” said the promising striker.
However, neither of the players wanted to dwell on the victory too much; rather they were looking forward to putting up much more improved performance in upcoming matches against Pakistan and Nepal.