Two late goals denied Bangladesh from getting their first point in the Hero Asia Cup 2017 as the host conceded a 3-1 defeat against Japan in their third and final Pool A match at Maulana Bhasani National Hockey Stadium in the capital Sunday.
Drag-and-flick specialist Mamunur Rahman Chayan scored Bangladesh's first goal of the tournament after 148 minutes from the host's first penalty corner but two goals in the last couple of minutes denied the home side from having the last laugh.
The higher-ranked Japan, who drew against Pakistan in the last game, ended their Pool A campaign with four points from three matches while Bangladesh finished at the bottom. Japan defeated Bangladesh 3-0 in the last edition's classification round.
The first quarter ended goalless with Japan trying their luck with four penalty corners but the Bangladesh defence remained solid to resist all of Japan’s threats. In the 20th minute, Bangladesh goalkeeper Asim Gope made two brilliant saves to deny Kenta Tanaka's initial effort before blocking Koji Yamasaki's close-range shot on the rebound.
Kenji Kitazato put Japan ahead in the 22nd minute, breaking into the right side of the circle before sneaking the ball into the near post after it deflected between the legs of Asim, who returned to the playing squad after being benched in the last game.
Bangladesh earned their first penalty corner of the tournament in the 28th minute and Chayan made no mistake finding the back of the net with a fierce hit after Pushkor Khisa Mimo dragged the ball toward Kamruzzaman Rana to stop for Chayan.
The home side created another great chance at the half-hour mark but Romman Sarkar and Mainul Islam Kaushik's consecutive hits were blocked by an alert Japan keeper Shimmoto Suguru.
The home side seemed to be a little different in the third quarter and kept the scoreline level, thanks to Gope who saved the only penalty stroke of the game in the 40th minute. Gope made a spectacular save blocking Yamada Shota's stroke with his outstretched right leg.
Bangladesh started the final quarter with the same rhythm but fell away in the last couple of minutes. In the 47th minute, Kaushik saw his fierce hit from the top of the d-box fly inches wide and in the 53rd minute, Japan custodian Shimmoto produced a brilliant save to deny Naim Uddin's hit.
Kenta disappointed the home fans by sealing the winning goal two minutes before the final whistle with a brilliant hit from the top of the d-box. Kenta scored again a minute later, taking advantage of an unguarded Bangladesh defence.
"We had a strategical plan for the third quarter but failed to perform to our expectation. The players became mentally tired in the late stage of the game and conceded two goals. Japan are a better team but we could have played better. Hopefully we can bounce back in the next round," said Bangladesh coach Mahbub Harun, who came to the post-match conference after being absent in the presser following the first two matches.
(Chayan 28) 3 Japan
(Kenji 22, Kenta 58, 59)