Bangladesh will conclude their group campaign facing Pakistan on Tuesday where a win would take them to the semifinals
Ashraful Islam Rana scored twice as Bangladesh national hockey team secured a place among top six in the Asian Games 2018 after beating Thailand 3-1 in their fourth Pool B match at GBK Hockey Field in Jakarta on Sunday.
After an average start and a goalless opening half, Bangladesh appeared as a different force in the third quarter with rising drag-flick specialist Ashraful successfully converting their first two penalty-corners before Milon Hossain added another in the last quarter.
If Oman loses their game against Malaysia, a top 6 finish for Bangladesh will be all but guaranteed. As a result, they can directly qualify for the Asia Cup and the Asian Games in 2022 as well. Bangladesh will conclude their group campaign facing Pakistan on Tuesday where a win would take them to the semifinals.
Bangladesh didn’t have their best moments in the first two quarters of the game when Thailand earned four penalty corners thanks to the goalkeeper Abu Sayed Nippon who made a couple of fine saves.
Rasel Mahmud Jimmy earned Bangladesh the first penalty-corner five minutes into the third quarter from which Ashraful put his side ahead with a fierce hit after Sarower Hossain’s drag and Milon’s push.
Ashraful doubled the lead six minutes later from another penalty-corner, hitting the back of the board from the same combination of Milon’s push and Sarower’s drag.
Thailand tried to come back to the game in the final quarter and they finally pulled one back in the 48th minute when Borirak Harapan placed the ball into the middle connecting a short pass from Nisman Naseela inside the circle.
Milon, who once went close to scoring in the previous quarter, finally got into the scoresheet, sealing the victory in the 55th minute, after Jimmy’s hit from the edge-of-the-circle was blocked by the keeper but Milon pushed home on the rebound.
Praising Thailand’s performance, Bangladesh head coach Gobinathan Krishnamurthy didn’t look content with his side’s performance. “Thailand played very well defensively. It was not easy to break their defence. We had to fight it out,”
The Malaysian coach added, “Today’s performance was not or best. We must keep on playing more matches, friendly matches. We still have doubts and fear.”
Match hero Ashraful said, “If we had played our best according to our plan then it would have been easier for us and we could have scored more. Thailand improved more than last time. The only problem they have is defending the penalty corners.”
Bangladesh earlier defeated Oman 2-1 and Kazakhastan 6-1 in the first two group matches but lost to Malaysia 7-1 in the previous match.