Bangladesh suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat at the hands of a strong Uzbekistan after conceding an own goal in the 94th minute in their third Group B match of the 2018 AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers at Hisor Central Stadium in Tajikistan Monday.
The junior Bengal Tigers, who kept clean sheets in their last two games, put up yet another brave display against a side who netted 16 goals in their last two matches. And Bangladesh came agonizingly close to securing a vital point before young centre-back Mohammad Atikuzzaman sent the ball in his own net in the dying stages of the game.
"It was bad luck because we lost the match by an own goal at the last minute of injury time, but I am pleased and happy the way our boys gave their best effort. Our players fought until the end of the game. It was a very nice match," said Bangladesh head coach Mahbubur Rahman Roksy after the game.
The situation was different two years ago in October when Bangladesh U-19 team were outplayed by their Uzbekistan counterpart 4-0 in the 2016 AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers.
Uzbekistan head coach Mochinov Alexander said, "We have good luck that we won the match against Bangladesh. Even we lost the hope that we would win the match after 90 minutes of the (match) finished, because Bangladesh play very nice football and I am pleased the way Bangladesh team (fought) with Uzbekistan until the final whistle. Really bad luck for Bangladesh."
Roksy strengthened the defence line prior to the game, making three changes to the starting XI from the previous match against Maldives, whom they beat 1-0. He brought in defenders Bishwanath Ghosh and Atikuzzaman in place of midfielder Saikat Mahmud and defender Riyadul Hasan while forward Mahbubur Rahman replaced left winger Mohammed Rahim Uddin.
Bangladesh, who held Tajikistan to a creditable goalless draw, still have the opportunity to finish among the top two from the group but they will be closely following the last game between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. With three straight wins, Uzbekistan are currently top of the points table with nine points while third-placed Bangladesh have four points. Second-placed Tajikistan have seven points.
Bangladesh will conclude their group stage when they face Sri Lanka Wednesday while Uzbekistan and Tajikistan take on each other.
The teams are vying for the 14 berths still up for grabs in the tournament. The 10 group winners and five best second-placed teams advance to the finals alongside host Indonesia.
Bangladesh playing Xl
Pritom, Rahmat, Badshah (C), Monir, Atikuzzaman, Bishwanath, Sohanur, Biplob, Shadin (Rahim 61), Jafar (Fahim 80') and Mahbubur