Substitute goalkeeper Mehedi Hasan, who became the unlikely hero of Bangladesh's SAFF U-15 Championship triumph at the ANFA Complex ground in Kathmandu yesterday, thanked the goalkeeping coach Mizanur Rahman for guiding him to success in this competition.
The youngster was not the first choice goalkeeper, but he grabbed his opportunity with both hands when he stood between the sticks in place of suspended Mitul Marma against India in the semifinal. His two brilliant saves took Bangladesh to the final against Pakistan where he came off the bench to stop three spot kicks to win it for Bangladesh yesterday.
“I have followed the instruction of my goalkeeping coach. I did exactly the way he instructed me to do,” Mehedi said after the victory, adding that he was 'overjoyed at contributing to the success of the team'.
Mitul, the one he replaced towards the end of regulation time, was happy too as he felt the coaches made the right decision by bringing on the 'tiebreaker specialist'.
“When we were tied 1-1, the coach did the right thing by bringing on the tiebreak specialist,” Mitul said. “Our mentality was strong. We wanted to be champions.”
The coach Mostafa Anwar Parvez, who had saw his side falter at the semifinal stage last year, had set a modest target of reaching the last four this time around. But with only two months of training, his charges have achieved the highest feat, following the footsteps of the batch of 2015, which won the then SAFF U-16 championship at home.
“This title is a reward for our planning and hard work. The players and coaching staff worked hard for it. I won't be able to describe my feelings right now,” said a seemingly proud Parvez.
The top scorer of the tournament Nihat Jaman Ucchash, who scored four goals in the opening match against Maldives, thanked his father and local coaches for their support.
“I had this target of becoming the top-scorer, which came true today and it's definitely a great feeling. I thank my father and the coaches of my locality who helped me come this far,” the young striker said.