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Dhaka Tribune

Bengal Tigers begin new year with a bang

Update : 08 Jan 2016, 12:53 PM

The Bengal Tigers kicked off their Bangabandhu Gold Cup campaign with a resounding 4-2 win over Sri Lanka in the tournament opener at Jessore's Shams-ul Huda Stadium on Friday.

Striker Shakhawat Hossain Rony continued his purple patch by netting twice in the either side of each half while centreback Yeasin Khan and youngster Nabib Newaj Jibon added one apiece to give Bangladesh a confident start to the eight-nation event.

Following their group-stage exit in the recently-concluded Saff Suzuki Cup in Kerala, India, Bangladesh head coach Maruful Haque was hoping for a good start and his charges provided exactly that as the Bengal Tigers began the new year with new hope.

Rony, who also bagged a brace against Bhutan in their last group match in the regional south Asian competition, maintained his fine form and once again proved himself as a reliable option upfront. The Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi forward has now scored four goals in his last two outings, which is more than any of his team mates in 2015.

In the absence of regular fixture Hemanta Vincent Biswas, who was out to injury, juvenile striker Jibon got the nod ahead of veteran forward Jahid Hasan Ameli. Captain Mamunul Islam partnered Sohel Rana in central midfield while Jamal Bhuiyan sat just in front of the back four.

The home side began the game brighter of the two teams and it took them only 17 minutes to break the deadlock with pacey winger Zahid Hossain delivering a lovely assist for Rony from the right flank. All Rony had to do was calmly place the ball home past the Lankan custodian.

The weekend crowd's jubilation however, lasted only three minutes due to some sloppy defending by experienced centreback Nasir Uddin Chowdhury. Nasir upended Silva inside the box and Figurado duly stroked the ball from the spot.

Yeasin though restored Bangladesh's lead just a few moments later when he glided home a header from a curling Mamunul corner.

Bangladesh could have caused further inroads in the 28th and 33rd minutes and it was Mamunul who was the provider on both occasions. Rony and Nasirul Islam Nasir however, narrowly failed to add to Bangladesh's lead.

Two minutes before the first half whistle, the men in red and green atoned for their earlier misses as Jibon made it 3-1 following a swerving Zahid free-kick from 20 yards.

The islanders then reduced the arrears against the run of play seven minutes into the second half and surprisingly, Jamal turned out to be the culprit. The midfield enforcer slipped in front of his own box and Chaturanga capitalised on the blunder, poking past Bangladesh netminder Shahidul Alam Sohel.

The Lankans threatened a few more times after their second goal but Sohel and the Bangladesh back four stood firm.

Rony's second of the day gave the hosts some much-needed breathing space in the 86th minute and Maruful's disciples saw off the remainder of the game without further trouble.

The Bengal Tigers will face reigning champions Malaysia in their second Group A clash on Tuesday at Dhaka's Bangabandhu National Stadium. Before that though, the Malaysians will take on Nepal in their opening match on Saturday at the same venue.

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