Nshimirimana Jospin slammed his second hattrick of the tournament to shatter Bangladesh’s dream of playing the Bangabandhu Gold Cup final as the hosts were knocked out at the semifinal stage for the third consecutive time a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Burundi yesterday.
Jospin, who struck his first treble against Mauritius, made the difference between the two sides by scoring three goals while goalkeeper Ndizeye Aime Fales stood firm to deny Bangladesh in front of a 15,000-strong crowd at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
The second semifinal was predicted to be a battle between Burundi’s attacking forces and the Bangladesh defence, and it was the Burundi forwards who prevailed as a feeble Bangladesh backline was to blame for the first two goals.
However, coach Jamie Day’s charges showed character in the second half but were unable to find a way past the brilliant Fales.
Day made two changes to the squad that beat Sri Lanka 3-0, drafting Jamal Bhuiyan and Raihan Hasan in place of Mahbubur Rahman Sufil and the suspended Tapu Barman respectively in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Matin Mia as the lone striker. But the home side suffered a big blow after four minutes as Matin, who struck a brace against Sri Lanka, came off with a muscle cramp.
Striker Sufil came off the bench and had some sprints up front but he had hardly any impact except on one occasion. In the seventh minute, the Bashundhara forward put a defence-splitting through ball for Mohammad Ibrahim inside the box, but the left-winger saw his shot to the near post well parried by Fales with right-winger Saad Uddin remaining unmarked at the far post.
The hosts tried to play pressing football to disrupt Burundi’s build-up game, but the East African side almost broke the deadlock through a backline fumble but Jospin drove wide over advancing goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana in the eighth minute.
Jospin finally broke the shackles in the 43rd minute as the 18-year-old marksman, finding the Bangladesh defenders out of position, slotted home from inside the box off an Ngabonziza Blanchard cutback. Three minutes later, Jospin doubled the score with a spectacular header off a Blanchard cross from the right side.
After resumption, the hosts went on all-out attack and created some good chances but poor finishing by the forwards – for long a thorn in Bangladesh football -- and some good saves from Fales kept Bangladesh from recovering any ground.
Saad failed to beat Fales in a one-on-one situation in the 49th minute before a Sufil header was saved at the cost of a corner in the 62nd minute. In the next minute, Riyadul Hasan was denied by the woodwork and Saad headed wide again in the 67th minute. Fales made a spectacular save at the cost of another corner, diving to his left to deny Jamal, before substitute Rakibul Hasan floated over the crosspiece inside the six-yard box in the 78th minute.
While Bangladesh repeatedly squandered chances, Burundi mounted sporadic attacks and completed the rout from a counter with Jospin completing the treble in the 79th minute to raise his goal tally to seven in three matches.
Bangladesh had two more chances when Riyadul saw his close-range header gripped by Fales and Saad was denied by the woodwork in the 90th minute.