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Bangladesh girls eye Saff U-18 title

  • Published at 02:59 pm October 6th, 2018
Bangladesh
Bangladesh girls pose for photographs prior to their Saff U-18 Championship semi-final against Bhutan in Thimphu Friday BFF

The two finalists faced each other in the last match of Group B Tuesday where Bangladesh dominated the opponent en route to a 2-1 win, but the final is expected to offer a different challenge for Paul Thomas Smalley’s young troop after Nepal overcame one of the favourites, India, in the semi-final

Bangladesh girls are only one step away from adding another trophy to their cabinet when they take on familiar foe Nepal in the final of the Saff U-18 Championship at Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu, Bhutan Sunday at 7pm.

The two finalists faced each other in the last match of Group B Tuesday where Bangladesh dominated the opponent en route to a 2-1 win, but the final is expected to offer a different challenge for Paul Thomas Smalley’s young troop after Nepal overcame one of the favourites, India, in the semi-final.

Head coach Golam Rabbani Choton however, uttered words of confidence after his first-choice striker Mosammat Sirat Jahan Shopna recovered from injury to be available for final selection. 

Shopna has been in terrific form, netting eight goals in only two group stage matches to become the tournament’s top-scorer, but she missed the semi-final against Bhutan.

Good news for Choton is that the elder members in the squad are getting their rhythm back. 

Right winger Sanjida Akter exhibited promising display and scored a brilliant goal against Bhutan to open her scoring in the tournament while skipper Mosammat Mishrat Jahan Mousumi and Srimoti Krishna Rani Sarkar also found the back of the net. 

Defender Shamsunnahar squandered a penalty against Nepal in the group phase but proved that the miss was just an accident by scoring Bangladesh’s fourth and last goal from the spot in the semi-final.

Nepal’s semifinal hero Anjana Rana Magar could give headache to Shopna and her attacking teammates as the goalkeeper produced two superb saves in the tie-breaker, and also scored one in the shootout.

Akhi Khatun and the back-five should also be alert for attacking threats from forwards Rekha Paudel [seven goals], and Rashmi Kumari Ghising, who netted two eye-catching goals in the last two matches against Bangladesh and India.

“Nepal (are) a tough opponent and played a more physical game. We watched them [Nepal] how they played against India and beat them in the semi-final. They created many chances,” said Choton over phone Saturday. 

He added, “Shopna is back and we will field our full force. Whatever happens in the final, if we play our natural game we will win the game.”

Meanwhile, Bangladesh girls also won the inaugural Saff U-15 Championship title last year, but finished runners-up in this year’s edition in August after losing the final against India. 

Winning the inaugural Saff U-18 Championship title will boost the confidence of the Bangladesh girls, ahead of the senior Saff Women’s Championship, scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka in December this year.

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