The result also lifted Tajikistan to the last-four while reigning champion Nepal crashed out of the tournament
Favourite Palestine set up a semi-final clash with hosts Bangladesh in the Bangabandhu Gold Cup after handing Nepal a 1-0 defeat in the final group round fixture at Sylhet District Stadium Saturday evening.
The result also lifted Tajikistan to the last-four while reigning champion Nepal crashed out of the tournament. With two straight wins, Palestine topped Group A with six points while Tajikistan finished second following their only win against Nepal.
Bangladesh will now face Palestine in the second semi-final Wednesday at Bir Sreshtha Ruhul Amin Stadium in Cox’s Bazar while Philippines and Tajikistan face each other in the other semi-final at the same venue Tuesday.
Palestine made as many as seven changes to the starting XI that started in a 2-0 win over Tajikistan while Nepal brought only a couple of changes in the defence due to injuries, leaving regular starters Biraj Maharjan and Ananta Tamang on the bench for Devendra Tamang and Suman Aryal.
Palestine, who handed debuts to several players in the game, went close to scoring twice within the quarter-hour mark with Sameh Maraaba heading a Mousa Helal corner wide.
Two minutes later, receiving a cutback from Salem Khaled, Helal’s powerful strike from the right edge of the box was punched away by Nepal goalkeeper and player of the match Bikesh Kuthu for a corner.
Scoring problem is nothing new in the national team as well as to Bangladesh coach Jamie Day, but the English coach has to deal with another problem, which is somewhat sweet.https://t.co/dc9gmb9XzZ#BFF #FOOTBALL #BANGLADESH #BANGLADESHFOOTBALL #JAMIEDAY #JAMIE #DAY #GOLDCUP— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) October 6, 2018
Bikesh made another diving save to deny Maraaba’s grounder from the right side of the box in the 31st minute. Bikesh produced a couple of brilliant saves in the second half as well to keep the fort secured until the goal.
Bikesh tipped away a powerful header of Maraaba for the cost of a corner in the 59th minute after midfielder Jaber Abdullah’s free-kick from left side met his teammate just outside the six-yard box.
Defender Salah Tamer’s header moments later was blocked again near the goalline. Maraaba saw another of his efforts blocked by Tamang at the middle of the box.
Forward Salem Khaled finally broke the deadlock in the 70th minute when his glancing header from a precise Abdullah cross from the left flank gave Bikesh no chance.
Meanwhile, it was the last match of the tournament in Sylhet as the semi-finals will be held in Cox’s Bazar while the final will be held in Dhaka.
Palestine 1 (Khaled 70) 0 Nepal
Philippines v Tajikistan, Tuesday, Cox’s Bazar
Palestine v Bangladesh, Wednesday, Cox’s Bazar