Second-half substitute Rabiul Hasan scored a wonderful goal as Bangladesh beat Laos 1-0 in the first leg of their first round qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup at the New Lao National Stadium in Vientiane today.
The Arambagh Krira Shangha forward raceived a long-ball from skipper Jamal Bhuiyan and stepped past a Laos player before unleashing a fierce grounder from the edge of the box, beating the Laos goalkeeper at his near post.
Rabiul had also scored in Bangladesh's last international match against Cambodia in their 1-0 win in Phnom Penh in March this year. The win would definitely work as a huge advantage in the final reckoning following the second leg, which will be held at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on June 11.
The winners over the two legs will qualify for the group stages of the joint qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup while the losers will be all but devoid of AFC/FIFA-sanctioned competitive matches for the next four-year cycle.
Bangladesh did not start the game too well as they were in their shell in the first half. The hosts dominated possesion, shots on target and corner kicks, but thanks to some disciplined defending and tidy glovework from Ashraful Islam Rana, Bangladesh went to the break unscathed.
Bangladesh coach Jamie Day made three changes in the second half, replacing Arifur Rahman with Rabiul first before bringing on Tawhidul Alam Sabuz in place of Matin Miah and Mamunul Islam in place of Nabib Newaz Jibon.
Rabiul's excellent goal gave Bangladesh the advantage, but they failed to extend their lead despite Laos's desperate play in search of an equaliser in the latter stages of the game. However, the Bangladesh defence held firm and ensured that they would return to Dhaka with a massive advantage.
Ashraful Islam Rana (GK), Bishwanath Ghosh, Tutul Hossain Badshah, Yeasin Khan, Rahmt Mia, Mashuk Mia Johnny, Jamal Bhuiyan (C), Biplo Ahmed, Matin Miah (Tawhidul Alam Sabuz), Arifur Rahman (Rabiul Hasan), Nabib Newaz Jibon (Mamunul Islam)