An awful blunder by goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel gifted the visitor the lead in the opening half from where the host couldn’t come up with enough promise to stage a comeback before substitute Nawayug Sreshtha killed the game off in the last minute of stipulated time
Host Bangladesh suffered a shocking exit from the Saff Suzuki Cup 2018, despite winning two matches, after conceding a 2-0 defeat against Nepal in their last Group A game at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Saturday.
An awful blunder by goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel gifted the visitor the lead in the opening half from where the host couldn’t come up with enough promise to stage a comeback before substitute Nawayug Sreshtha killed the game off in the last minute of stipulated time.
The men in red and green needed only a draw to move through to the semi-final after Pakistan won the day’s previous match against Bhutan.
After the end of the Group A fixtures, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan were tied with the same number of points –six. Goal difference turned out to be the deciding factor in separating the teams.
Nepal became group champion by the virtue of a superior goal difference while Pakistan finished runners-up as Bangladesh bowed down from the group stage.
Bangladesh head coach Jamie Day kept the squad unchanged from the 1-0 win against Pakistan while Nepal made a couple of changes from the 4-0 win over Bhutan as Bharat Khawas returned to pair with Bimal Gharti Magar along with Nirajan Khadka, replacing midfielders Bishal Rai and Anjan Bista.
The opening half was an even affair until a poor mistake by Sohel put the home side into the back foot.
Sohel, who was also responsible for his side’s defeat during the pre-tournament friendly against Sri Lanka, showed inconsistency once again by failing to carry on his fine performance from the Pakistan win to this game.
Youngster Bimal put the visitor ahead in the 33rd minute, thanks to the harrowing mistake by the goalkeeper. Bimal took a free-kick from 30 yards away.
It went straight to Sohel but the goalie fumbled the easy ball and it went through the sticks to give Nepal a fortuitous lead.
The home side had their only shot on target in the first half in the 42nd minute when Tutul Hossain Badshah saw his weak left-footer from the edge of the box unable to make any trouble whatsoever for Nepal keeper Kiran Kumar.
Day made a couple of substitutions within 10 minutes into the second half with the experienced duo, midfielder Sohel Rana and striker Shakhawat Hossain Rony replacing Biplo Ahmed and Sadd Uddin respectively.
Nepal went close to scoring once again in the 54th minute when Bharat’s initial left-footer from the top-left corner of the box was punched away by the netminder before Sujal’s shot on rebound was blocked. Bharat sent the ball over from the top of the box.
The host suffered from a lack of creativity in midfield as that saw very little chances being created. Rony’s header from a Waly Faisal free-kick fell on top of the net and Rana’s left-footed strike from 25 yards away flew inches over the bar.
And against the run of play, forward Sreshtha, who replaced Bharat, finished the last bit of hope of the home side as he doubled the lead in the 90th minute, firing past Sohel from the right side of the box and into the near post.
Nepal will face either India or Maldives or Sri Lanka in the first semi-final while Pakistan play the second semi-final Wednesday.
Bangladesh starting Xl: Shahidul Alam Sohel; Waly Faisal, Topu Barman, Tutul Hossain Badshah, Bishwanath Ghosh; Mamunul Islam, Jamal Bhuiyan, Masuk Miah Joni (Emon Mahmud - sub), Biplo Ahmed (Sohel Rana), Saad Uddin (Shakhawat Hossain Rony); Mahbubur Rahman Sufil
Jamie Day, Bangladesh head coach
"I think we deserved to be in the semi-final. I felt we were in control of the game to that point we let in a silly goal which is nine times out of 10 a simple catch but it happens when goalkeeper makes mistakes. It (Shahidul Alam Sohel’s mistake) had impact in the game. I’m not blaming Sohel because we lost.
"We probably didn’t do enough to create enough chances but I’m extremely pleased with the boys. We had to chase at the end and get the result. But really disappointed because we played well in the three games to win two games and not qualify. It’s obviously disappointing.
"We didn’t probably create enough chances but we scored three goals in two matches previously. What other strikers do we have in Bangladesh? We have the same questions over and over again in the last 10 years. We don’t have any strikers in Bangladesh.
"We all want success. We all want to win every game but we have to realise two weeks ago we made history, we won back to back games after many years.
"I’m extremely proud of the attitude the players they showed in the last few weeks. We have lots to be proud of and lots to be disappointed with. Now we have to take the positives to move to the forward."
Bangladesh 0 2 Nepal (Bimal 33, Nawayug 90)
Teams P W D L GD Pts
Nepal (Q) 3 2 0 1 5 6
Pakistan (Q) 3 2 0 1 3 6
Bangladesh (E) 3 2 0 1 1 6
Bhutan (E) 3 0 0 3 -9 0
Q – Qualified for semi-finals
E - Eliminated
Bangladesh Stats Nepal
8 Shots 14
1 Shots on target 4
49 Possession % 51
399 Passes 409
73 Pass accuracy % 74
16 Fouls 8
2 Yellow cards 0
2 Offsides 2
3 Corners 1