Towhidul Alam Sabuz hit a hattrick to power Bangladesh to a 4-3 win over Thailand Premier League side Bangkok Glass FC in the booters' second and final warm-up match in Thailand yesterday ahead of their FIFA friendly against Laos.
Although the victory came against a club side, it was the national team's first since a 4-2 win over Sri Lanka in the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in January 2016. Since that win, Bangladesh played a lot of international and friendly matches, but tasted no more triumphs, with their last defeat against Bhutan in the Asian Games Qualifiers play-off in October 2016.
Smarting from a 1-0 defeat to Thai Premier League side Ratchaburi Mitr Phol FC, Bangladesh's aim in the second and final practice match was to test the players who did not get a full 90-minute outing in the first game.
Coach Andrew Ord selected a playing XI consisting of Shahidul Alam Sohel, Mamun Mia, Tutul Hossain Badsha, Uttam Kumar, Rahmat Mia, Nasir Chowdhury, Biplu Ahmed, Masuk Mia Jonny, Mahbubur Rahman Sufil and Saad Uddin to get the combination right ahead of the match against Laos on March 27.
The mix of youth and experience did not disappoint; Arambagh captain Sufil gave Bangladesh the lead in the sixth minute after dancing past the opposition goalkeeper. However, Sufil had to leave the Bangkok Glass FC ground after picking up an injury, which paved the way for Sabuz, the experienced Chittagong Abahani striker.
Bangkok Glass found the equaliser in the 17th minute as Surachat Sareepim side-volleyed home from a low cross but Bangladesh hit back strong, netting twice before the break.
First, Sabuz played Mamun Mia in on the right flank and the bald-headed right-back whipped in a cross for Biplu, who made space for Sabuz inside the box before feeding him and the Chittagong Abahani striker chipped the ball over the advancing keeper on the half-hour mark. Sabuz struck again three minutes from the break, tapping home a Jafar Iqbal cross.
After resumption, the hosts made a few changes to their line-up and tactics by sending on their foreign recruits and immediately beginning to apply tremendous pressure, which paid dividends as Jakkrit Labtrakool scored twice to make things all square again. Goalkeeper Sohel should have done better and stopped the first effort, a regular low shot from Labtrakool, and the second was also preventable as it came courtesy of a defensive lapse in the 82nd minute.
However Bangladesh took only one minute to restore the lead, Sabuz again provided it through a clever strike, collecting the ball some 25 yards out from a poor clearance from the opposing goalkeeper before chipping over him to not only complete a magnificent individual outing, but also ensure a much-needed victory for Bangladesh.
"Bangladesh played in a system where the coach taught the players how to defend and attack. In the last match we defended well but could not avail the opportunities, but today our finishing was very good," manager Satyajit Das Rupu said. "Now, we have to bring that coordination between defending and finishing before the match against Laos. I think if we can perform like today, then something good can be expected against Laos."
Sabuz, who has hit just one hattrick in domestic competitions, against Youngmen's Fakirerpool Club in 2008, was ecstatic.
"I never thought I would score a hattrick although my concentration was to score goals. I am really happy because I helped Bangladesh win the match," said Sabuz.