This article was published in the October issue of the Sports Tribune magazine
The Bangladesh girls went agonisingly close to lifting the Saff U-15 Championship in August this year, so they were determined to get it right, this time at the first round of the qualification stage of the 2019 AFC U-16 Championship.
The girls in red and green dominated the Saff U-15 Championship but a solitary goal by India in the final saw them lose out on a well-deserved title.
A month later, the Bangladesh girls got the perfect opportunity to put behind the memories of that defeat, and they did in some style, advancing to the second round of the qualifying stage of AFC’s prestigious U-16 competition.
Placed in Group F in the first round of qualifiers, Bangladesh were pitted alongside Vietnam, the UAE, Lebanon and Bahrain.
The Bangladesh girls began their campaign with a resounding 10-0 win over Bahrain on September 17, captain Maria Manda, Anuching Mogini and Shamsunnahar leading the way with a brace apiece.
Lebanon were no better as they shipped eight against the high-flying Bangladesh girls two days later, Shamsunnahar again bagging a double while Tahura Khatun and Sajeda Khatun also scored two goals each.
Bangladesh's Anai Mogini in action during their AFC U-16 Championship qualification match against the UAE in Dhaka Friday Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik pic.twitter.com/p8H2Ei6NJE— Md Manik (@MdManik81149088) September 21, 2018
The UAE then were on the receiving end as the Bangladesh girls put seven past their hapless goalkeeper on September 21, Anuching shining brightly with a hat-trick.
However, Vietnam, Bangladesh’s last Group F opponent, were also going strong.
They had not only matched Bangladesh’s tally of points – nine – but also the number of goals scored and conceded – 25 against none.
Their final Group F match therefore was a decider, to determine which of the two teams make it through to the second round of qualifiers as the pool champion.
The Bangladesh girls prevailed although they were not at their prolific best, the game being settled with solitary strikes from Tahura and Akhi Khatun.
The job though was done and Bangladesh could look forward to the second round of qualifiers, slated for February and March next year, where Australia, China, Iran, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam lie in wait.
Shishir Hoque of @DhakaTribune has tried to find out the reasons as to how the Bangladesh girls have done so well in recent years. https://t.co/ocJ1vJI7gh#FOOTBALL #WOMEN #BANGLADESH #BANGLADESHFOOTBALL #BANGLADESHWOMENFOOTBALL #BFF #DT #DHAKA #TRIBUNE #DHAKATRIBUNE #SAFF— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) January 4, 2018
These eight teams will be drawn in two groups of four, with the group champions and runners-up sides progressing to the final round, scheduled to be hosted by Thailand.
North Korea, South Korea and Japan have already qualified for the tournament finals, courtesy their top three finish in the last edition of the championship, while Thailand qualified automatically as the host nation.
Speaking about the last edition, Bangladesh had also earned the right to contest the tournament finals but it was really an occasion for them to gather experience as they came up against the Asian powerhouses, with bigger infra-structures and national pipelines.
This time around however, the Bangladesh girls are more experienced, having featured in a number of international tournaments over the past two years, and a positive result or two against their established counterparts could very well be in the offing.
And if that happens, Bangladesh women’s football would receive a further fillip in its quest for greatness in the senior international level.
Bangladesh U-16 10 (Anai 12, Maria 16, 71, Anuching 19, 35, Shamsunnahar 44, 58 – P, Sajeda 55, Shamsunnahar Jr 57, Tahura 80) 0 Bahrain U-16
Bangladesh U-16 8 (Sajeda 14, 40, Tahura 20, 23, Anai 26, Shamsunnahar 47, 63, Rozina 75) 0 Lebanon U-16
Bangladesh U-16 7 (Shamsunnahar 7, Anuching 26, 35, 36, Alia OG, Anai 72, Ila 90+1) 0 UAE U-16
Bangladesh U-16 2 (Tahura 45+1, Akhi 65) 0 Vietnam U-16
5 - Shamsunnahar and Anuching Mogini
4 - Tahura Khatun
3 - Sajeda Khatun and Anai Mogini
2 - Maria Manda
1 - Shamsunnahar Jr, Ila Moni, Rozina Akter and Akhi Khatun
Teams M W D L GD Pts
Bangladesh 4 4 0 0 27 12
Vietnam 4 3 0 1 23 9
Lebanon 4 2 0 2 -4 6
UAE 4 1 0 3 -13 3
Bahrain 4 0 0 4 -33 0
Did you know?
The Bangladesh girls had the perfect record in the first round of qualifiers, scoring 27 and conceding none in four matches, an average of a little less than seven goals per game.