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Bangladesh Begin SAFF Campaign with Lebanon Defeat

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Bangladesh Begin SAFF Campaign with Lebanon Defeat

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Bangladesh kicked off their SAFF Bangabandhu Championship 2023 campaign with a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Lebanon at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru, India on Thursday. Despite putting up a strong fight against the highest-ranked team in Group B, Bangladesh succumbed to goals in the latter stages of the game.

The disparity between the two teams in the latest FIFA rankings is a staggering 93 places, but Bangladesh managed to defy expectations and hold off Lebanon’s advances until the 79th minute. However, a defensive blunder proved costly for the Bangladeshi side as substitute Hassan Maatouk broke the deadlock, capitalizing on a mistake made by center-back Tariq Kazi. Kazi allowed Karim Darwich to steal the ball from him, leaving him helpless as two opponent forwards, including Hassan, faced goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico and found the back of the net with ease.

As the game entered six minutes of stoppage time, Bangladesh’s hopes for a comeback were crushed when an unmarked Khalil Bader capitalized on a defensive lapse and scored the second goal for Lebanon. Bader took advantage of a well-executed cutback from Zein Al Abidine Farran, exploiting a massive gap in the Bangladeshi defense.

Despite the defeat, Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuiyan acknowledged his team’s efforts in the post-match presentation, stating, “We conceded two goals in the crucial minutes. Before that, we played well against a side who are 90 places above us. We conceded a goal from our mistake, but it was part of the game. It’s bad luck.”


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Match Highlights

Prior to the match, Bangladesh coach Javier Cabrera made a few changes to the squad that secured a victory against Cambodia the previous week. Topu Barman returned to bolster the heart of the defense, while Isa Faysal took up the left-back position. The changes aimed to provide a stronger defensive foundation against the formidable Lebanese side.

In the 22nd minute, Jamal Bhuiyan unleashed Bangladesh’s first shot on target, but his grounded effort from outside the box went straight into the hands of Lebanon keeper Ali Sabeh. Both goalkeepers were tested throughout the game, with Zico making a couple of fine saves in the first half. However, Ali Sabeh displayed his agility and diving skills, denying Foysal Ahmed Fahim’s close-range attempt just before the halftime whistle.

Lebanon made three substitutions and implemented some tactical changes during the second half, but they failed to trouble the resolute Bangladeshi defense. In response, Cabrera adjusted his attacking set-up, introducing a triple substitution before the hour mark. Rabiul Hasan, Sheikh Morsalin, and Mohammad Ridoy entered the game, while Jamal Bhuiyan was left out.

Bangladesh had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 60th minute when Foysal Ahmed Fahim received a well-placed pass from Mohammad Sohel Rana and broke into the box. However, Fahim failed to beat the Lebanese goalkeeper in a one-on-one scenario, leaving the Bangladeshi supporters disappointed.

Despite displaying more attacking movements in the opposition’s territory compared to the first half, Bangladesh’s defense could not maintain the same momentum, resulting in an empty-handed start to their campaign.

Next up, the men in red and green will face the Maldives this Sunday before concluding their group phase fixtures against Bhutan three days later. The team will look to bounce back from their opening defeat and secure positive results in their upcoming matches to advance in the tournament.

Bangladesh starting XI: Anisur Rahman Zico, Isa Faysal, Topu Barman, Kazi Tariq Raihan, Bishwanath Ghosh, Jamal Bhuiyan, Sohel Rana, Mohammad Sohel Rana, Mojibur Rahman Jony, Foysal Ahmed Fahim, Suman Reza

Substitutes: Mohammad Ridoy, Sheikh Morsalin, and Rabiul Hasan (57), Rakib Hossain (74), Rafiqul Islam (87)

Lebanon 2 (Hassan 79, Khalil 90+6) Bangladesh 0


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