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Saff U-15 title eludes Bangladesh girls this time

  • Published at 02:27 pm September 5th, 2018
Bangladesh
Bangladesh, reigning champion of the inaugural edition of the age-level continental competition last year at home, set about defending their crown with a thumping 14-0 win over Pakistan on August 9 BFF

This article was published in the September issue of the Sports Tribune Magazine

Sometimes the best teams don’t always win in sport and the perfect illustration of this term was clearly evident at the Saff U-15 Women’s Championship last month in Bhutan where the Bangladesh girls narrowly missed out on the title, despite dominating the tournament from start to end.

Bangladesh, reigning champion of the inaugural edition of the age-level continental competition last year at home, set about defending their crown with a thumping 14-0 win over Pakistan on August 9.

Such was the dominance of the Bangladesh girls that Pakistan failed to script a single attack on target, whilst the former had 37 against their name. The corners count was also heavily in favour of Bangladesh; 12 against Pakistan’s none.

Shamsunnahar was the star of the show with her five goals while diminutive forward Tahura Khatun, Sajeda Khatun and Anai Mogini netted two apiece.

Full of confidence, the Bangladesh girls then took on Nepal four days later, and the outcome was the same, even though the defending champion had to graft harder en route to a 3-0 win, Tahura and Sajeda once again getting their names on the scoresheet with one strike each.

In the process, Bangladesh topped the group but their first real test came against host Bhutan really, in the second semi-final on August 16. Bhutan finished third in the last edition but in the end, they were no match for the Bangladesh girls, who eventually registered a comprehensive 5-0 win.

Tahura scored for the third match in succession, no doubt boosting her hope of claiming the highest scorer’s award.

Familiar opponent India, among all teams, awaited in the final on August 18. After all, it was India whom Bangladesh beat to clinch the inaugural Saff U-15 women’s title last year.

India were gunning for revenge, looking to put behind last year’s memories once and for all, while Bangladesh’s eyes were simply on the trophy. Eighteen players among the 23-member squad had tasted success last year so majority of the Bangladesh girls knew what it takes to clinch silverware. Experience and pre-final jitters therefore, would not be a problem.

And much like the previous games, Bangladesh started off the better of the two teams, laying siege on the opponent goal throughout the opening half. That India went into the first half interval still to concede a goal was largely down to some near misses by the Bangladesh girls, and some inspired saves by the Indian goalkeeper.

However, soon after resumption, disappointment struck the Bangladesh camp, as Sunita gave India the lead in the 66th minute. And the scoreline remained the same till the final whistle, despite repeated attacks on the Indian goal by the Bangladesh girls.

Distraught, the Bangladesh girls returned home having failed to meet their target of retaining the title.

However, sport also offers a shot at redemption and given the recent run of successes by the Bangladesh girls, this surely won’t be the last time the girls in red and green would contest a grand finale. And when they do, the Bangladesh girls will be better for the experience of the near miss at the Saff U-15 Championship.

RESULTS

Group stage, August 9

Bangladesh U-15 14 (Tahura 5, 19, Monika 17, Shamsunnahar 31, 50, 54, 57, 90, Maria 39, Akhi 40, Sajeda 48, 58, Anai 60, 88) 0 Pakistan U-15

Group stage, August 13

Bangladesh U-15 3 (Tahura 46, Maria 51, Sajeda 67) 0 Nepal U-15

Semi-final, August 16

Bangladesh U-15 5 (Anai 18, Anuching 38, Tahura 43, Maria 69, Ripa 86) 0 Bhutan U-15

Final, August 18

India U-15 1 (Sunita 66) 0 Bangladesh U-15

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