Bangladesh U18 team came from 3-0 down to stage a historic comeback in the inaugural match of Saff U-18 Championship 2017 as they defeated South Asian powerhouse India 4-3 in a nail-biting encounter at Changlimithang Stadium in Bhutan’s Thimphu on Monday.
As the tournament is being played in round-robin league format and India being considered one of the title contenders, the victory might help the men in red and green end the five-nation meet on a high note.
Bangladesh ended the opening half conceding three goals without scoring any but made its best ever comeback in the latter half, netting four goals to earn the memorable victory which was Bangladesh second against India in any youth tournament since the junior team’s title winning campaign in the Saff U-16 Championship in 2015.
After starting the second half with 3-0 down, youngster Jafar Iqbal came out as rescuer by stealing the show with a brace and an assist. Jafar opened the scoring for Bangladesh ten minutes after the resumption through a header from a corner before left-back Rahmat Mia pulled another back at the hour mark.
Rahmat’s goal was also one of rare kind for Bangladesh football as it was scored from an indirect free-kick from the top of six-yard box when all eleven opponents players gathered at the goalline to secure the posts but Rahmat’s superb strike into top right corner left the Indian troupe stunned.
The game became more exciting when Bangladesh equalised the margin in the 75th minute through forward Mahbubur Rahman Sufil. With only a minute into the injury time, Jafar scored another to seal the victory with another unstoppable header.
Earlier, India dominated the game throughout the opening half giving the Bengal boys fewer occasion to initiate the attacks. Midfielder Lalawmpura put India ahead in the 18th minute following mistakes from Bangladesh defence before Edmund Lalliansanga doubled the lead in the 32nd minute through a penalty. India made it harder for Bangladesh when forward Princeton Arnald extended the lead two minutes into the first-half added time.
Bangladesh never made such comeback in any recorded international match, say it in youth level or senior team. The U18 junior boys, however, have long way in the current event as they will take on Maldives in their second match on September 20 before facing Nepal and hosts Bhutan on September 25 and 27 respectively.