Bangladesh Under-20 national team couldn’t wash away their 2019 sorrows as they were yet again bettered by an Indian side that came through in the U20 SAFF Championship final beating them 5-2 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar, India on Friday.
A tumultuous 10 minutes after the full 90 saw Bangladesh spiral down after the contest ended at 2-2 at full time. Paul Smalley’s boys conceded three goals within those 10 minutes as Bangladesh lost the plot.
Bangladesh were pegged back by a penalty in the opening minute. In the first 30 second of the match, Indian forward Himanshu Jangra’s long ranger effort was rebounded by Bangladesh goalkeeper Mohammad Asif, who clipped and brought down striker Gurkirat Singh while trying to compensate for the unsuccessful gather.
Gurkirat, who led the goal-scoring charts with four goals, made no mistake while extending his goal tally as he chipped it from the spot.
Instead of going back-footed by the early shock, Bangladesh came back strongly into the contest, making sharper presses and smart interceptions in the opposition’s half.
Bangladesh’s first solid chance came from forward Moinul Islam, whose delayed shot from the left side gave enough time to the defenders to come in for a block.
Paul Smalley’s boys maintained the high-tempo and when faced by Indian threats, goalkeeper Asif was up to it as he made some assured saves to keep his team in the contest.
The boys in red and green were rewarded for their vigilance in the 45th minute, courtesy of midfielder Rajon Howladar, whose thumping right-footed shot from 30 yards went through the crowded box and found the bottom corner.
It started with Bangladesh’s number seven Rafiqul Islam, who managed to dribble past the right-back and rolled it to the incoming Rajon, who found a fitting finish to level the score for his team at half-time.
Bangladesh got off the blocks quickly after the restart and came out with greater tenacity as they rattled India with a second goal in the 48th minute.
This time it was defender Shahin Mia who nestled the ball onto his chest and brought it down expertly before producing a pinpoint shot into the near corner to make it 2-1.
But the celebrations were cut short as India managed to find an equaliser just 12 minutes later. Striker Gurkirat netted his second with a piledriver of a finish as he deposited into the far corner, evading the outstretched arms of Asif. The Bangladeshi defenders despite putting in a spirited shift failed to clear the ball on that occasion and paid the price.
Following India’s equaliser, Bangladesh were under the cosh as the hosts launched numerous speedy attacks but Asif and his gloves made sure to let none pass as he stood tall to keep it 2-2.
The young goalkeeper’s most significant save came just at the stroke of 90 minutes as his valiant effort parried away Brijesh Giri’s deft shot on goal to take the contest to extra time.
But the start of extra time saw all hell break loose as India got themselves into a goal-scoring frenzy in the first 10 minutes, netting three goals to shatter all hopes of Bangladesh of clinching the title.
Jangra started the goal galore by scoring in the 92nd minute and Gurkirat overshadowed everyone with his monstrous performance as he scored two more, first in the 93rd minute to complete his hat-trick and then drove a wonder strike from 40 yards to net his eighth goal of the tournament.