DHAKA: Pakistan’s ultra-defensive strategy proved costly here at the Bangabandhu National Stadium as they conceded late on and lost 1-0 to Bangladesh in the SAFF Suzuki Cup on Thursday.
Topu Barman scored four minutes from time as Bangladesh with two wins from two while the loss, which comes after a 2-1 triumph against Nepal in their opening match, leaves Pakistan with work to do in their final Group ‘A’ game against Bhutan on Saturday.
Nepal beat Bhutan 4-0 earlier on Thursday and face Bangladesh in their final group game. If Nepal win that game and Pakistan beat Bhutan, it will come down to goal difference to decide which team progresses to the semi-finals.
Bangladesh seemed to have no answer to Pakistan’s defensive formation and were made to run around circles by Jose Antonio Nogueira’s men. Playing on the counterattack, however, Pakistan didn’t do much with the ball with players failing to string passes together.
It was instead on a long ball in the ninth minute when Pakistan could’ve taken the lead but Mohammad Ali’s header was tipped away by Bangladesh goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel.
For all of Bangladesh’s posession, they were unable to create chances and their first shot on target came just before the hour mark when Biplo Ahmed’s powerful shot from 25 yards was deflected by Mohsin Ali into the arms of Pakistan keeper Yousuf Butt.
With the clock ticking down, Bangladesh threw men forward in search of a breakthrough and Barman came close to scoring in the 83rd when he couldn’t tap in Mamunul Islam.
He made no mistake minutes later when he headed home from a goalmouth scramble following a long throw-in from Bishwanath Ghosh.
“We played well,” Nogueira said after a scrappy match in which both teams failed to delight the crowd. “Both teams played well. It was good for Bangladesh they got a throw-in and scored. We only conceded through a throw-in.”
Earlier, Nepal took the lead in the 21st minute with a goal by Ananta Tamang before they ran riot in the second-half.
Sunil Bal scored a rebound from an unsuccessful spot kick by Bimal Ghartimagar in the 70th after Nirajan Khadka was fouled inside the box by a Bhutanese defender.
Bharat Khawas scored the third goal of the match in the 77th while Nirajan Khadka added a fourth in the 88th.
Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2018