Bangladesh coach Jamie Day defended his players, saying his team deserved to win based on performance, after a 1-1 draw against Maldives jeopardized their bid to reach the final of the football event of the South Asian Games.
An own goal from Maldives skipper Akram Abdul Ghani gave Bangladesh a first-half lead after the red and greens had another disallowed, but Maldives fought back brilliantly and ended the stronger following Mahudhee Hossain’s 70th-minute equaliser.
The draw comes after a defeat against Bhutan in their first match left Bangladesh bottom of the five-team table. They now have one point, level with Sri Lanka who have played one game. Nepal lead the table with three points from one game followed by Bhutan on three and Maldives on two.
However, Day believes his team still have a chance to go through to the final.
“I’m pleased with the performance of the players today and I think we are still in with a chance for a top-two finish,” Day said at the post-match press conference, adding that he would be happy with a medal of any colour.
With Tutul Hossain in for Yeasin Khan and Shushanto Tripura replacing Bishwanath Ghosh, Bangladesh made a positive start.
They should have been in front in the 20th minute when Saad Uddin poked home after a header had bounced off the post on a cross from Jamal Bhuiyan, but the referee incredibly signalled for a corner-kick, deeming that the ball had bounced out after hitting the post and rolled back in.
But Bangladesh took a deserved lead, albeit fortuitously, 10 minutes later when Riyadul Hasan’s back-header on a throw-in from Rabiul Hasan was blocked by the goalkeeper, only to roll back into the net off the back of Abdul Ghani.
Bangladesh had chances to extend the lead, but Maldives were growing stronger all the time and appeared a different side after the break.
The equaliser came on 70 minutes, courtesy of a powerful shot at the near post from Mahudhee following a mazy run and tee-up from Naiz Hassan.Mahudhee and Naiz wreaked havoc and the latter saw two attempts come off the woodwork.
However, Day felt Bangladesh created as many chances as the opposition and should have had a victory in their bag.
“We had a goal disallowed. The ball came off the post and it was called a corner. If we had that goal, there was no coming back for Maldives,” the coach opined, further claiming that the results were a reflection of fatigue from playing continuous football.
Bangladesh will play Sri Lanka tomorrow before squaring off against hosts Nepal on December 8.