Bangladesh had to pay a heavy price for their forwards’ profligacy in front of goal, suffering a 1-0 defeat to hosts Thailand in their Group A opener of the AFC Under-16 Women’s Championship at the Chonburi Stadium in Chonburi yesterday.
Forward Thawanrat Promthongwee easily beat Bangladesh goalkeeper Rupna Chakma from a 20-yard free kick in 59th-minute after right-back Anai Mogini unnecessarily fouled Janista Jinantuya just outside the danger zone.
Opting for five defenders and three forwards, the visitors got off to a fine start, creating two chances in the first four minutes. However, forward Anuching Mogini saw her shot to the far post go narrowly wide while Tahura Khatun did the hard part by darting into the box and beating onrushing goalkeeper Pawarisa Homyamyen, but the slender striker’s shot ricocheted off the crosspiece in the fourth minute.
The hosts seemed to have a solid game plan, which was to attempt to take advantage of the weakness and short stature of Rupna -- also goalkeeper of the Bangladesh national team. The hosts earned free-kicks around the danger zone twice and captain Pluemjai Sontisawat unleashed dipping shots that beat goalkeeper Rupna but went narrowly wide of the post on both occasions.
With Bangladesh struggling in midfield due to poor performances from captain Maria Manda, and Monica Chakma, Thailand came close to taking the lead in the seven minutes into the second half. They capitalised on a misunderstanding between Maria and Anai before defender Akhi Khatun stepped in and swept up the attack.
On a rain-soaked pitch, Janista picked up the ball after Anai’s clearance had gotten lodged in the wet field. The right-back committed an unnecessary foul and gave away the free-kick which led to the opener, Thawanrat finding the far corner with goalkeeper Rupna helpless.
After falling behind, Bangladesh pressed hard for the equaliser but could not dispossess Thailand. Coach Golam Rabbani Choton sent on Ritu Parna Chakma in place of forward Anuching to take the control of midfield and Ritu came close to levelling the margin but her shot was well-saved Pawarisa in the 77th minute.
With Bangladesh getting desperate, they fell into the hosts’ offside trap a few times, leaving many to wonder what the girls had learnt in the six months that have passed after the SAFF Women’s Championship, where they were caught offside several times against Nepal and India.
Thailand came close to doubling the lead twice, but forward Thanatphhat was denied by Rupna in a one-on-one situation in the 80th-minute while substitute Suchavadee Chompaeng failed to convert a penalty in the 85th-minute after Akhi fouled her.
Bangladesh had their final chance to equalise in the 90th-minute, but substitute striker Sajeda Khatun fired straight at the Thai goalkeeper despite the far-post gaping and Bangladesh had to pay the price.
Bangladesh will play their second match against three-time champions Japan on September 18.