A nine-man Bangladesh Under-18 team failed to clinch their maiden SAFF Under-18 Championship title after suffering a 1-2 defeat against a 10-man India in ill-tempered final at the APF Stadium in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Sunday.
Indian midfielders Vikram Pratap Singh and Ravi Bahadur Rana scored one goal each while defender Yasin Arafat scored the lone goal for Bangladesh in a final that saw three red cards and nine yellow cards – seven received by Bangladeshi players and two to India.
This was Bangladesh’s second successive runners-up finish in the tournament, as they previously finished second in the 2017 edition while India won their maiden title in the tournament’s third edition.
India took the lead in the second minute of the game when midfielder Vikram Pratap Singh’s right-footed drive from inside the six-yard box found the back of the net with defender Moirangthem Thoiba Singh providing the assist from right-wing.
In the 21st minute of the match chaos ensued after Bangladesh’s Fahim Morshed tackled India’s Vikram Pratap and players from both the teams started a tussle, shoving each other and exchanging heated words.
After the officials separated the players, referee Kabin Byanjankar showed a straight red card to Indian forward Gurkirat Singh and a second yellow to Bangladeshi midfielder Mohammad Ridoy, reducing both the teams to 10-man.
Bangladesh captain Yasin Arafat levelled the scores in the 40th minute when he tapped the ball home from goalmouth after corner from forward Foysal Ahmed Fahim.
But emotions got the better of Yasin, as he took off his jersey to celebrate his goal, an act which earned him his second yellow of the match and he was sent off, which reduced Bangladesh to nine men right before the half-time.
The boys in red and green fought bravely in the second half despite being out-numbered but received the final blow in the first minute of the stoppage time when Ravi Bahadur’s right-footed strike from 25-yard out found the back of the net after a throw-in by Givson Singh.
Bangladesh’s English coach Andrew Peter Turner was proud of his charges effort against India and felt that his team had the upper hand in the game on most occasions.
‘We were down to nine men for up to 60 minutes... I thought those nine men were absolutely fantastic. India didn’t look like they were going to score. We looked comfortable,’ Andrew told reporters after the match.
‘I thought we were going to go on and win the game even with nine men but it wasn’t to be,’ he added
Andrew was disappointed at Yasin’s untimely red card but expressed his doubts on Ridoy’s send off.
‘One guy [Ridoy] got sent off for not even being involved which is a bit of a mystery to me.
‘And the other red card was a lesson learned by Yasin. He was already yellow carded. If he had kept his shirt on his body instead of over his head he would have stayed on the pitch,’ he said.
Bangladesh forward Faisal Ahmed Fahim was the highest scorer in the tournament, with two goals.
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