India inflicted a heartbreaking 1-0 loss upon the hosts Bangladesh in the second semifinal of the Bangabandhu SAFF Championship setting the stage of a repeat Maldives-India final at Bangabandhu National Stadium Friday. The duel of the regional football supremacy will be played on Sunday.
In front of about 45000 strong crowds Bangladesh failed to raise the level that would overpower the Indians and in consequence faced the exit door of the eight team regional tournament.
Bangladesh looking nervous was pushed to the receiving end from the kick off as the taller Indians produced an electric performance with their hit and run tactics. The Indian dominance hardly allowed Bangladesh to roam their opponent defence till the half hour mark. Indians led by their skipper Sushil Kumar tormented the Bangladesh defence and it was only Aminul the reliable custodian saved Bangladesh from conceding more goals.
Je Je Lalphekula drew the first blood in the19th minute but his powerful header off a Rebert Lalthamuana free kick from the middle of the box flew past the right side post.
Aminul was in his brilliant best in the 31st minute diving to his limit denying Denzil Franco who unleashed powerful free kick from about 20 yards.
Indian’s kept their running into the Bangladesh territory and in the 39th minute Jibon Singh set free by a Joa Quim Abranches square pass saw his cracking left footer punched for a corner by diving Aminul.
Bangladesh finally succeeded to romp into their opponent’s territory in the 43rd minute. Overlapping defender Nasir cut back for Jahed Parvez who’s intended upward placing from the right edge of the box floated over the crosspiece.
After the resumption Bangladesh came back strong while the Indians took a counter attacking strategy. Substitute midfielder Shahed galloping down the right hand touchline managed to insert a low pass through the defence n the 55th minute but Emily fell short of toe-poking the ball.
Indians waiting for their chances broke the stalemate through their influential skipper Sushil Kumar in the 62nd minute. Bangladesh’s weakness countering the free kick was exposed in the second consecutive match. After Rebert’s initiation Sushil slotted the ball into the far corner of the net beside the defensive wall. Bangladesh conceded a goal in the same fashion in the previous match against Sri Lanka.
The Indians decision of saving their forte prompted Bangladesh to initiate some onslaught in the dying minutes but Waly Faisal’s lob in the 70th minute was palmed away at the last moment by custodian Arindam.
Bangladesh was grateful to Aminul in the dying minutes as he saved another two close range efforts of the confident Indians.