Bangladesh thrash Bhutan to reach semi after 14 years

Sheikh Mursalin (L) and Rakib Hossain both scored in the 3-1 thrashing of BhutanBFF

On the day Dhaka observed highest rainfall in the season, Bangladesh men’s national team footballers produced a 14-minute storm in Bangalore that took the side through to the semifinals of SAFF Championship after 14 years.

Bangladesh, who beat Maldives by 3-1 in their previous game, continued the good form and beat Bhutan by the same scoreline at the Sri Kanteerava Outdoor Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Not only was the scoreline the same, like the previous match the men in red and green conceded a goal before scoring thrice.

Bangladesh’s teenage sensation Sheikh Mursalin, who rocked the nation with a brilliant late goal last match coming as a substitute, played from the beginning to score a goal, earn an assist and played the pivotal role scoring the other one.

But Bangladesh faced an early setback just in the 12th minute of the game when Tsenda Dorji took the lead for Bhutan.

Earlier in the day, Maldives lost to Lebanon by 1-0 so even if Bangladesh lost by the same margin, they would go through thanks to their head-to-head result as points and goal difference would be the same.

However, like the previous match, Bangladesh seemed to charge up after conceding and took 10 minutes to equalise. Receiving a ball from Rakib Hossain, Musralin took a powerful left-foot shot to send the ball home.

The spirited Bangladesh continued to more goals and got succeeded when Mursalin cleverly crossed the ball into the box for Rakib who wanted to through the ball to forwarding Jamal Bhuiyan but it deflected Bhutanese defender Phuntsho Jigme and found the net to give Bangladesh 2-1 lead.

And the lead was stretched even further thanks to a superb individual goal of Rakib. This time he got the ball from Mursalin at the halfway of the opponents’ half, he dribbled past a defender, carried the ball all the way and from almost a zero-angle scored between a defender and the goalkeeper from the left side.

Bangladesh footballers celebrate after beating Bhutan 3-1 on Wednesday

In the second half Bangladesh made as many as five but could not create many chances. Bhutan also failed to create anything convincing that ensured Bangladesh reaching the semifinal stage with two wins.

Bangladesh will face Kuwait in the first semifinal on Saturday while Lebanon will lock horns against hosts Indian on the same day in the second semifinal.