Bangladesh under-16 men's team followed in the footsteps of their female compatriots to create a bit of history with a 2-0 victory over Qatar in the AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers in Doha last night.
Midfielder Dipok Roy and forward Faisal Ahmed Fahim scored in the second half of the match at Doha's Grand Hamd Stadium as Bangladesh came up with not only their first-ever victory over Qatar at any level, but also kept their dreams of a final round appearance alive.
Both teams came into the last match of Group E on the back of defeats against group favourites Yemen. While the hosts were thrashed 6-1 by Yemen, Bangladesh were far more impressive in their 2-0 defeat against the Yemenese on Friday. In fact Bangladesh were unlucky not to come out with a point from that match as they threatened the opposition goal more than once and conceded goals from counter-attacks.
In last night's match, the last in this group which was reduced to a three-team affair after UAE's late withdrawal, both sides had a chance each in the first half.
Qatar striker Abdul Rahman saw his shot from a free-kick come off the post before Bangladesh's Miraj Molla saw his effort well blocked by the Qatar keeper.
The hosts dominated early in the second half, but it was Miraj who again wasted another chance on the hour-mark, this time blasting the ball wide off target with only the keeper to beat. Two minutes later Dipok saw his attempt from inside the box miss the target by a few inches before he made amends with a towering header to give Bangladesh the lead in the 70th minute.
The midfielder rose above his marker on a perfectly-weighted corner and picked the opposite corner of the net as the few hundred Bangladeshi expatriates at the stadium erupted in joy.
Bangladesh goalkeeper Samiul Islam then produced an excellent save to protect the margin following a defensive fumble which had gifted the ball to a Qatari forward right in front of the box.
But defensive errors were more commonplace at the other end as a total miscommunication between the Qatar goalie and his defenders in the 81st minute saw Fahim, adjudged the best players of SAFF U-16 Championship last month, pouncing on the ball and expertly placing it past the goalie for the second goal.
As soon as the final whistle went, the Bangladesh players and officials rushed towards the gallery and celebrated wildly where a few hundred Bangladeshi expats had cheered them on all through.
Bangladesh will now have to wait for the other groups to finish to learn whether they have a chance to go through to the 16-team final round to be played in Malaysia next year.
Ten group champions and five best runners-up teams along with the hosts will participate in that tournament.
25 September, 2017 01:15 am