Palestine retained the title of the sixth edition of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup when they beat Burundi by 3-1 goals in a one-sided final in Dhaka on Saturday.
With the win, the West Asian nation became the second team after Malaysia to clinch the trophy for the second time.
Previously, Malaysia Red and Malaysia Under-23 teams won the titles in 1996 and 2015.
For Palestine, forward Khaled Salem, captain Sameh Maraaba and forward Layth Kharoub all scored once goal apiece in the first half while defender Ndikumana Asman pulled one goal back for Burundi in the second half.
Palestine got an early lead when Salem scored in the very third minute, tapping the ball home off a cross by Mohamed Darwish.
Maraaba doubled the margin seven minutes later when he pushed the ball into the net after Burundi goalkeeper Ndizeye Aime Fales failed to grip it.
Kharoub made it 3-0 with a right footed drive in the 26th minute.
Technically and tactically better Palestine kept physically stronger Burundi at bay throughout the match.
Striker Nshimirimana Jospin, who struck seven goals including two hat-tricks, was kept quiet by Palestine’s Mahmoud Abuwarda and Oday Kharoub in the final.
The tournament’s top scorer first hit the target in the 39th minute when he volleyed the ball straight into the hands of Palestine keeper Tawfiq Abuhammad.
In the second half, Burundi pressed hard to make a comeback that bore fruit in the 60th minute when Asman tapped home a cross by Blanchard.
After the goal, Burundi could not do much as Palestine tried to kill the game by keeping possession of the ball.
Palestine coach Makram Daboub believed that his tactical approach to stop Burundi attack proved decisive in the final.
‘We are happy for our people…We knew they [Burundi] would attack through flanks which we blocked. We were determined not to concede,’ said the winning team coach.
‘It was not an easy final because Burundi are strong and aggressive and they have good strikers… We changed our tactics after going 3-0 up. We tried to keep the ball to keep a clean sheet.’
Burundi manager Constantin Mutima was disappointed to lose the final as they tried their best to make a turnaround in the second half.
‘After going 3-0 down, we changed our tactics and increased forwards in place of defenders, but they played defensively. We thought we could comeback but it proved to be difficult. We are disappointed as we thought we would win,’ said Mutima.
Jospin was awarded the golden ball for the best player of the competition as well the golden boot for scoring highest number of goals.
Burundi captain Sameh Maraaba was adjudged as the player of the final while their goalkeeper Tawfiq Abuhammad was awarded the golden gloves award.
Palestine received a prize money of $30,000 alongside the fair-play award while runners-up Burundi got $20,000.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina watched the second half and distribute the prizes among the winners as chief guest.
Palestine, ranked 106th in the current FIFA rankings, reached the final with a 1-0 win over
Seychelles in the first semi-final while 151st ranked Burundi crushed hosts Bangladesh 3-0 in the other semi-final.
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