Substitute Mahbubur Rahman Sufil struck a late goal to help Bangladesh eke out a narrow 1-0 win over Maldives in their second match of the AFC Under-19 Championship Qualifiers in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on Thursday.
Sufil, who came from the bench to replace Rahimuddin in the second half, scored the winner in the last minute of the stipulated time to keep Bangladesh’s hope of advancing into next year’s final round.
Bangladesh, who beat Maldives 2-0 in the SAFF Under-18 Championship in Thimpu two months ago, dominated the game from the beginning but were struggling to find the net before Sufil’s strike.
With the win, Bangladesh took the top position of the points table of Group B with four points while a huge 10-0 victory against Sri Lanka in the other match kept Uzbekistan in the second position.
Bangladesh head coach Mahbub Hossain Roxy admitted that Maldives offered them great challenge like what they did against Tajikistan in the first match to keep the scoreline goalless.
‘Maldives did same thing what we did against Tajikistan in the first match,’ Roxy told New Age over phone after the match.
‘But we never lost our hope and finally got the deserving goal. With such win the boy’s proved that they have ability to fight full 90 minutes.’
Roxy said Bangladesh could score at least five goals in the first half but Maldives kept their defence compact and all 10 field players were involved in defending.
‘We knew that we could dominate the game but we never thought that we would face such a huge challenge to score. Maldives took a defensive strategy which left little room for our attackers,’ he said.
Irrespective of tight defending from Maldives, Bangladesh came close to scoring on quite a few occasion.
Winger Swadhin wasted a one-on-one chance in the 26th minute while Jafar saw his effort in the first half was cleared by a defender from the goalline.
‘We actually missed lots of chances in the first half. If we could score once in the first half than we could score more goals in the later half,’ Roxy said.
In second half a solo effort of Jafar seemed to have crossed the goalline but the referee cancelled Bangladesh’s claim.
Sufil ensured three points for Bangladesh when he scored from a rebound after Jafar’s powerful shot from edge of the box deflected off Maldives keeper’s chest.
Bangladesh will play their third match against Uzbekistan on November 6.