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Bangladesh Into SAFF Semis With Win Over Bhutan

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Bangladesh Into SAFF Semis With Win Over Bhutan

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Bangladesh’s long-awaited triumph in the SAFF Championship came to fruition as they secured a spot in the semi-finals after a 14-year hiatus. Their resounding 3-1 victory over Bhutan in the final Group B match at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru, India, on Wednesday, showcased their determination and skill.

The Bengal Tigers displayed their mettle by overcoming an early setback when Tsenda Dorji scored for Bhutan in the 12th minute with a powerful left-footed strike from just outside the box. However, Bangladesh refused to be deterred and mounted a spirited comeback.

In the 21st minute, Sheikh Morsalin, who had made a significant impact as a substitute in their previous match against the Maldives, once again proved his worth. With a spectacular strike from outside the box, Morsalin equalized the score, finding the back of the net with his weaker left foot, courtesy of Rakib Hossain’s precise pass. This marked Morsalin’s second international goal in as many matches, solidifying his emergence as a key player for Bangladesh.

Capitalizing on their newfound momentum, Bangladesh took the lead in the 30th minute. A combination of Rakib’s shot and Phuntsho Jigme’s unfortunate own goal allowed Bangladesh to surge ahead. Rakib had an opportunity to extend the lead further, but he shot wide in a one-on-one situation with Bhutan’s goalkeeper Zangpo.

Rakib redeemed himself in the 36th minute with a brilliant goal. Breaking into the right side of the penalty area, the winger displayed remarkable composure, slotting the ball home from a tight angle. This goal exemplified Rakib’s skill and showcased his ability to seize opportunities.


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Match Highlights

The second half witnessed a lull in the game, with both teams failing to create clear-cut chances. Bangladesh, aware of their impending triumph, exercised caution and preserved their advantage, patiently awaiting the final whistle and their long-awaited semi-final berth.

Coach Javier Cabrera made strategic changes to the lineup, replacing the injured Tariq Raihan Kazi and Foysal Ahmed Fahim with Rahmat Mia and Morsalin. Rahmat started as the right-back, while Bishwanath Ghosh, who had previously played in that position, shifted to center-back. This alteration showcased Cabrera’s tactical acumen and his ability to adapt to various match scenarios.

The victory against Bhutan secured Bangladesh’s status as the runners-up of Group B, earning them six points. Meanwhile, Lebanon clinched the top spot with nine points after defeating the Maldives in their respective match earlier in the day.

Looking ahead, Bangladesh now prepares to face Kuwait in the first semi-final on Saturday afternoon at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. This highly anticipated clash will be a test of their skill and resilience, as they aim to reach the tournament’s pinnacle.

In the other semi-final, India will square off against Lebanon later in the day. The stage is set for a captivating showdown between the four teams vying for a spot in the final. The outcome of these matches will determine which nations will battle it out for the SAFF Championship title.

Bangladesh’s journey in the SAFF Championship has reignited the hopes and aspirations of their passionate fans. The team’s impressive performance and their return to the semi-finals after more than a decade has brought a renewed sense of pride to the nation. With each passing match, Bangladesh’s determination and skill have been on full display, making them a formidable force in the tournament.


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