Bangladesh staged a brilliant comeback, overcoming a two-goal deficit in the final quarter of the game to snatch a dramatic 2-2 draw against host Laos in their first international match in 17 months during a Fifa friendly at the uneven National Stadium pitch in Vientiane Tuesday.
The men in red and green made a positive start before a silly goal and a penalty in the last quarter of the opening half saw them fall behind 2-0. Youngsters Jafar Iqbal and Mahbubur Rahman Sufil though turned out to be the saviours for the visiting side, striking superb goals in the last 10 minutes to silence the home crowd.
It was not only the debut for Andrew Ord as Bangladesh head coach but also for young players Tutul Hossain Badshah, Rahmat Mia and Jafar. Sufil and Biplu Ahmed also made their national team debut as substitute. Both Mamunul Islam and Jamal Bhuiyan started in midfield but the latter was given the captain's armband while youngster Nabib Newaj Jibon led the forward line, along with youngsters Jafar and Mohammad Abdullah.
Mamun Mia was the most experienced face among the back-four but the veteran defender made a silly blunder to gift the home side the opening goal at the half-hour mark. Mamun failed to make a simple clearance at the left side of the box, allowing Laos forward Kongmathilath to snatch the ball away from him before placing home calmly into the far post. Bangladesh struggled to find the rhythm with some misplaced passes and poor crosses till the break as Kongmathilath doubled the lead from a penalty in the second minute of the first-half added time.
Ord reshuffled the playing XI after resumption, bringing in in-form striker Towhidul Alam Sabuj, veteran full-back Waly Faisal and young midfielder Biplu. The team slowly started to gather momentum as the game wore on.
The visitor continued to pile pressure on the opposition and it was Chittagong Abahani Limited's U-19 winger Jafar who pulled one back with a superb side-flick in the 81st minute. Experienced campaigner Nasir Uddin Chowdhury headed a long throw-in by Rahmat towards Topu Barman before Jafar flicked home a quick pass from the middle of the box.
Sufil, who replaced substitute Sabuj in the 73rd minute, gave Bangladesh the much-deserved equaliser in the dying moments of the three-minute injury time. A headed pass by Topu found Sufil at the top of the six-yard box and his cool placing shot followed by a dummy gave no chance to the Laos goalkeeper.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh, who are placed 197th in the latest Fifa ranking, played their last international match against Bhutan on October 16, 2016 while Laos, ranked 183rd, conceded a 1-0 defeat against Cambodia last week.
Bangladesh warmed up for the game with a couple of practice matches in Thailand. Prior to that, Bangladesh footballers underwent a two-week long camp in Qatar earlier this month.
Ashraful Islam Rana; Topu Barman, Mamun Mia, Tutul Hossain Badshah, Rahmat Mia; Jamal Bhuiyan (Nasir Uddin Chowdhury 81'), Mamunul Islam (Biplu Ahmed 45'), Faisal Mahmud (Towhidul Alam Sabuj 45'/Mahbubur Rahman Sufil 73), Mohammad Abdullah (Masuk Mia Joni 35'), Jafar Iqbal; Nabib Newaj Jibon
(Kongmathilath 30, 45+2) 2 Bangladesh
(Jafar 81, Sufil 90+2)