The Bangladesh girls are still carrying the memories of the untimely loss of their teammate Sabina Yeasmin as the new south Asian champion dedicated their maiden Saff U-15 Championship title to the deceased Bangladesh footballer, along with the martyrs of the liberation war.
Sabina, who had to accept an unfortunate death at the age of only 14 three months ago, would have been with the winning U15 girls, lifting the country's first ever Saff women's football title. Her teammates remembered Sabina's name throughout the tournament, transforming consolation into inspiration during their unbeaten campaign.
Bangladesh head coach Golam Rabbani Choton, captain Maria Manda, the tournament's best player Akhi Khatun and the final's top performer Shamsunnahar all remembered Sabina after beating India 1-0 in the grand finale at Kamalapur Stadium in Dhaka Sunday.
"Sabina could have played with us today if she had not left us too early. This title is dedicated to her. It's great pleasure to give the country an occasion to cheer about. This title is also a gift to the Prime Minister (Sheikh Hasina) and the 16 crore people of Bangladesh," said an elated Maria.
Choton said the occasion of the Victory Day this month was playing in the back of their minds throughout the age-level tournament.
"This win is dedicated to the martyrs of the liberation war, and Sabina," Choton said before adding, "We remember Sabina very much. The girls promised to win the title for Sabina and they did it. We had only one target, which is to win every match and the title. I salute the girls."
Meanwhile, tall defender Akhi was a vital cog behind Bangladesh's dominant displays. After winning the award for the most valuable player of the tournament, Akhi, whose side didn’t concede a single goal, said, "This is the first time I received the best player’s award in an international tournament. I would not have had any problem if any other player from our team won the award. What is most important is that the team won. Everybody in our team played well. Everyone is happy."
Shamsunnahar was a happy girl after proving her new role as a left winger from her previous position of left-back. She scored her seventh international goal in the final, which she termed as her best strike so far. "There was curiosity over my change of playing position from left-back to forward role. Sir (Choton) challenged me. He told me to show him my performance in the new role. After scoring the winning goal, I really feel proud," she said.