Booters suffer defeat against Afghanistan

Bangla Tribune Desk
Published : 23:37, Sep 10, 2019 | Updated : 23:40, Sep 10, 2019

Bangladesh began their 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup Joint Qualification Group E campaign with a 1-0 defeat against Afghanistan at the latter side’s neutral home venue of Pamir Stadium in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe on Tuesday (Sept 10).
An unmarked Cyprus-based Afghanistan midfielder Farshad Noor acquired plenty of space inside the box while heading home in Omid Popalzay free-kick to score the all-important goal in the 27th minute. Goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana dived to his left and although his outstretched hand could touch the ball but it ricocheted of the woodwork before bouncing in to the goal net.
The higher ranked Afghans with their much better physical capacities and technical prowess could not however added any goal after that, rather the men in red and green almost snatched a point at the twilight of the encounter.
A big penalty appeal of Bangladesh was denied three minutes into the injury time when striker Nabib Newaz Jibon was charged at the edge of the six-yard box following a back-heel of Yeasin Khan but the referee Lei Zhang waved away the plea of a spot kick.
Jamie Day made three changes in the starting eleven from their last international match, a goalless draw against Laos, three months ago with Sohel Rana, Md Ibrahim and Saad Uddin coming in for Masuk Miah Jony, Mamunul Islam and Robiul Hasan.
Afghanistan side looked more comfortable on the artificial turf than their counterparts and their ball control, passing, movement and crosses were better than that of Bangladesh players who struggled to get the possession during the opening half.
Sohel conceded an unnecessary foul outside the box in the ninth minute but forward Faysal Shayesteh’s free-kick went too wide. Bangladesh defence could have done better during the goal just before the half-hour mark but to their credit, they came back with more compact display in the rest of the game.
Rana, who was somewhat guilty of conceding the goal, made some sort of redemption by a brilliant save at the near post nine minutes into the second half denying forward Zubayr Amiri’s dangerous run and left-footed effort from the left side of the box.
Day made two substitutions in the attacking half with youngster Robiul Hasan, who scored two international goals this year against Laos and Cambodia, coming off the bench in the 56th minute replacing Biplu Ahmed while Mahbubur Rahman Sufil also got some game times when he replaced Md Ibrahim in the 74th minute.
Under the tutelage of Day Bangladesh players have shown a lot of tenacity and improved their ability of keeping the stamina till the last moments of the game and it was once again evident.
There were more Bangladesh movements inside Afghanistan terrain during the latter stage of the game but no organized build-up or concrete attack were seen until that penalty appeal in the dying moment.
Bangladesh, who drew only one and lost seven during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, will host Asian champions Qatar in their next group match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on Oct 10.