Bangladesh made it to the AFC U-16 Women's Championship finals by notching a hard-fought 1-0 win over hosts Myanmar in a Group B encounter of Qualification Round-2 at the Mandala Thiri Stadium yesterday.
Midfielder Monika Chakma struck the lone goal from the right-corner to shoot the girls in red and green into the final round of the championship for the second time in a row as well as ensure a semifinal berth alongside favourites China, who beat Philippines 7-0 in the other Group B match. Following two defeats, Myanmar and Philippines were eliminated while Bangladesh and China, with two wins each, will square off tomorrow to decide the group winners.
Fresh from a morale boosting 10-0 win over Philippines, the charges of Golam Rabbani Choton faced a tough challenge from Myanmar due to their physical superiority, giving Maria Manda, Monika, Akhi Khatun, Tahura Khatun and the others a run for their money before the hosts ultimately went down in front of a home crowd.
Bangladesh were thoroughly tested by Myanmar, who were seemingly more skilled and stronger then their counterparts. However Akhi, Nilufar Yeamin Nila, Nazma Khatun and Anai Mogini built a rock-solid defence, preventing Myanmar's forwards from inflicting any damage.
Myanmar midfielder Pont Pont Pyae Maung controlled the game after the side effectively diffused two of Bangladesh's key midfielders -- Maria and Monika -- but the hosts were hardly able to penetrate the attacking third with Bangladesh's defence thwarting them at every turn.
Returning after a barren first half, Bangladesh looked more organized and tried to attack on the break despite the lack of a strong midfield. Anuching darted into the box and struck one straight to the goalkeeper in 62nd minute before Bangladesh goalkeeper Rupna Chakma came out from her post to deny forward Myat Noe Khin in the 63rd minute.
Afterwards, Bangladesh claimed two successive corners, the second of which Monika Chakma used to find the back of the net from the right side. Monika mustered a beautiful left-footed curving corner which kissed the back of Myanmar's net, even though the goalkeeper got a hand to it, in the 68th minute.
Six minutes later, Myat Noe Khin beat the last defender, Akhi Khatun, but floated her shot over the crosspiece from outside the box, much to the relief of Rupna Chakma. Anuching could have doubled the margin but she drove narrowly wide with the goalkeeper beaten two minutes into the four-minute stoppage time.
“It was a tough and competitive match for us as Myanmar is a strong side which we knew before by playing against their senior sides. So, we had some hard works for this match and finally beat them,” said captain Maria Manda on a TV interview in Myanmar.