U-23s lose despite taking lead
The Bangladesh U-23 team surrendered a first-half lead in a 1-3 defeat against Tajikistan in their second match of the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers at the Faisal Al-Husseini Stadium in West Bank, Palestine yesterday.
The second defeat in as many matches means Bangladesh were eliminated from the qualification race, with the mere formality of the third match against hosts Palestine to be carried out tomorrow.
Smarting from a morale shattering 7-0 defeat at the hands of Jordan in the opening match, the boys in red and green surprisingly stood tall against Tajikistan, who are 51 places ahead as far as FIFA rankings for senior teams are concerned.
Compared to the match against Jordan, Bangladesh played better and kept control of the ball and fought equally in the first half.
But the scenario changed at the start of the second half with Bangladesh 1-0 up, and Tajikistan gradually established their control on the game, putting pressure on the attacking third and forcing Bangladesh to make erratic passes in the midfield. The pressure was too much for the Bangladesh defence, who failed to deal with the Tajikistan attacks.
Bangladesh grabbed the lead in the 33rd minute when striker Sohel Mia tapped in from close range after a Sohel Rana drive took a deflection off a Tajikistan defender and fell to the feet of Sohel Mia at near post.
After resumption, Tajikistan upped the ante and levelled the margin in the 55th minute. Safarov Amirdzhon equalised with a nice move, capitalising on a back-pass from defender Nurul Naim Faisal and firing home after dancing past two defenders and goalkeeper Anisur Rahman.
The Bangladesh goalie then brought down Safarov inside the box to concede a penalty kick in the 66th minute. Babadjanov Bozim then slammed home the rebound after his initial shot was blocked by Anisur.
Bangladesh again looked a bit organised to press the opponents for an equaliser but they could not create any scoring opportunity, rather they conceded the third goal four minutes from time when Abdugafarrove Oibek darted inside the box from the right and put a square-pass to defender Zoir Jurabaev, who fired home from close range.