Heartbreak leaves booters speechless
Before taking to the ground for the warm-up session at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru ahead of the SAFF Championship semifinal against Kuwait, Bangladesh right-back Bishwanath Ghosh announced that he would distribute Tk 5 lakh among his teammates as a bonus if they could make it to the final for the first time in 18 years.
The defender's announcement was intended to charge up and motivate his teammates against a strong Kuwait team and Bangladesh showed their character throughout the match, even as the game rolled into extra-time. However, Kuwait ultimately broke Bangladeshi hearts by scoring the winner in stoppage time of the first half of extra time after the regulation time ended goalless.
Bishwanath, who was outstanding throughout the match, would have been among the happiest if he was compelled to disburse that hefty bonus from his pocket, but he and the likes of Rakib Hossain, Suman Reza, Rabiul Hasan and Mohammad Ibrahim had no choice but to burst into tears at the final whistle.
The disappointment even led to a little scuffle among the two side's players and officials, centring on a conversation between Tariq Raihan Kazi and Kuwait's Mahdi Dashit and Bangladesh team manager Amer Khan was shown a red card by Indian referee John Crystal as a consequence.
As the dejected booters headed to the dressing room with heavy hearts, the Indian spectators cheered the Bangladeshi players for their fighting performance, with the men in red and green responding in kind with rounds of applause.
On the way to the team bus, Bishwanath said: "We always returned home with consolation [prizes] but this time we had a big dream. We always told our teammates that if we kept faith in each other, then it was possible to cross the Kuwait hurdle. But the wind was not with us. Besides, many decisions from the referee went against us."
Tariq Kazi could utter one just sentence, saying: "Nothing to say at the moment."
Sheikh Morsalin, who squandered the easiest chance of the game in the second minute, added: "There was a great chance to make history but we could not do it. We put up a good performance and created chances but we were unlucky. Pray for us so that we can do better in the future,"
Tapu Barman stated bluntly: "The referee killed us, we don't have anything to say,"
When queried about the refereeing, coach Javier Cabrera responded: "We are not surprised by what happened. We have been seeing this during the tournament. This is what we were expecting and it happened."