Despite putting up a spirited show, Bangladesh suffered a 1-0 defeat against Bahrain in their first Group B match of the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers at the Khalifa Sports City Stadium in Manama last night.
Jamie Day's charges had their backs against the wall all through the match against a much-higher ranked side who were playing at home, yet they showed character to fight till the end to come up with the smallest margin of defeat.
The only goal of the game came in the 21st minute when Bahrain captain Mohamed Yusuf Hardan found the net with a diagonal shot after being set up with an across-the-box pass, with the Bangladesh defenders failing to clear the line.
While the Bahrain players were pretty wayward in front of goal except for that one occasion, special praise must go to Bangladesh goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico who made some brilliant saves to keep the margin of defeat to a minimum. The five-man defence also gave Zico enough support while the woodwork came to Bangladesh's rescue once early in the second half.
Bangladesh, buoyed by raucous expatriate support, had a few attacking moves of their own too, but those moves -- in the form of either corner kicks or throw-ins -- failed to trouble the opposition goalkeeper.
“I'm really pleased with the effort and the work rate. The boys put in a fantastic shift,” Bangladesh coach Day said in his post-match press briefing.
“Bahrain had the quality in the areas that mattered and we didn't. They created the better chances, while we lacked that bit of quality to make it count when we had our chances,” the coach opined.
Meanwhile, group favourites Palestine thrashed Sri Lanka 9-0 in the opening fixture of the group earlier in the day.
Bangladesh will play against Palestine in their second match on Sunday.