Bangladesh unified football team emerged as unbeaten champion in the Special Olympics Mena Games, which is being held in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates with the participation of 1,200 athletes from 33 countries competing in 16 disciplines.
Bangladesh defeated the home side 1-0 in the final Tuesday after beating Egypt 2-1 and Lebanon by 4-0 in the previous encounters. They also faced the UAE in their opening match of the meet which eventually ended in 1-1 draw.
During the tournament, the youngsters in red and green enjoyed some memorable times with legendary Argentine icon Diego Maradona, who congratulated Bangladesh athletes and officials for the success.
The football event is taking place split into two divisions and the unified football side of Special Olympics, Bangladesh won the title in Division 1 on debut. Bangladesh team, guided by coaches Shamim Ahmed, Abdur Razzaq and Paritosh Dewan held a month-long camp at BKSP before their departure to Abu Dhabi on March 12.
Middle East North Africa (MENA) Games is a Special Olympics Regional Games but this time, in its ninth edition, south Asian countries like Bangladesh and India were also invited for the event which will conclude Friday. Bangladesh team however, are scheduled to return Thursday.
Mena Games served as preparation for Bangladesh ahead of the Special Olympics World Summer Games, which will be held at the same venues with same facilities in Abu Dhabi in March, 2019. Bangladesh became runners-up in the last World Games in Los Angeles three years ago.
Bangladesh unified football team
Athletes: Sajib Biswas, Mizanur Rahman, Hasib Rana Hamim, Kawser Alam Ikram, Maksudur Rahman, Ripon Miah, Aslam Miah and Jihadul Islam; Partners: Mahmudul Hasan Kiron, Mohammad Jewel, Swapan Kumar Das, Jihad Hossain, Sohanur Rahman, Arafat Miah and Shamim Hossain