Bangladesh made a sparkling start in the SAFF U-16 Championship with an emphatic 4-0 win against Sri Lanka at the Sylhet District Stadium yesterday.
Sarwar Jaman Nipu struck a brace while Abedin Rakib and Mohammad Atiquzzaman netted one goal each to confirm Bangladesh's semifinal berth and sending the Lankans out of the competition.
Bangladesh will face India on Thursday in the last match of Group A, which will decide the group champions and runners-up. A win will send the hosts through to the semifinals as group champions while a draw or a defeat for them will mean they will advance as group runners up.
Yesterday's fixture was a do-or-die affair for the Lankans following their 0-5 drubbing at the hands of defending champions India. However, the hosts gave them no chance of bouncing back, with a stranglehold on the match from the go. The excellent build-up and possession-based football of Bangladesh allowed little room for the visitors, who managed only one shot on the target throughout the game.
Bangladesh started the game with an attack from the right flank and Nipu, who later scored twice, had a goal disallowed due to off-side in the very first minute. However, the youngster made no mistake giving his side the lead four minutes later on the rebound after his initial attempt was blocked by a defender.
Bangladesh kept creating chances but failed to increase the margin in the first half, thanks to Sad Uddin's effort denied by woodwork in the 20th minute and a brilliant fingertip save by Sri Lanka goalkeeper Mohammad Fazlan on a powerful shot from Khalil Bhuiyan on the half-hour mark.
The lead was doubled on the hour mark by Rakib, whose powerful drive gave the Lanka keeper no chances before Nipu rattled the crossbar in the 63rd minute.
Sri Lanka's only chance to reduce the margin came soon after, but Sufaik drove narrowly wide of target before Atiquzzaman made it 3-0 with a neat header in the 77th minute.
Nipu wrapped up the victory with a clinical finish in the 87th minute after availing a defence-splitting pass from skipper Mohammad Shawon.
“We are happy to begin the championship with a convincing win. All the credit goes to the boys, who played well even though the finishing was not good in the first half,” said Bangladesh coach Syed Golam Jilani.