Booters bow out after 1-1 draw with Nepal
Bangladesh's hopes of reaching the final of the SAFF Championship after 16 long years were dashed in controversial fashion as a dubious penalty decision late in the game saw the men in red and green relinquish a one-goal lead against Nepal in their last group match at the National Stadium in Male yesterday.
Striker Sumon Reza had given Bangladesh a ninth-minute lead, thanks to an accurate header on a free-kick from captain Jamal Bhuiyan, but Oscar Bruzon's charges, who needed victory to advance to the title decider, were left shell-shocked when the referee pointed to the spot following a collision inside the Bangladesh box in the 86th minute of the game.
Bangladesh winger Saad Uddin seemed to have come in contact with a Nepalese forward, who made most of the incident, diving on to the pitch.
The Bangladesh team, who were down to 10 men on 79 minutes following goalkeeper Anisur Rahman's sending off, protested vehemently, but to no avail.
Anjan Bista converted the spot-kick past substitute goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana to equalise with two minutes of normal time remaining.
With a man down and morale shattered, there was no coming back for Bangladesh while the Nepalese players and officials were ecstatic on having made it to their first final of the regional competition.
Nepal will play the final on October 16 against either Maldives or India, with the qualifier slated to be decided following the group's final match late last night.