It was quite a spectacle at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday. More than five thousand spectators turned up at the big bowl to watch Bangladesh take on United Arab Emirates in the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Qualifiers. The number is quite astonishing considering the fact that the marquee clashes of Bangladesh Premier League often fails to draw such crowd.
The hosts’ win against Jordan on Wednesday perhaps played a big role in drawing such a big crowd to a football match played between the U-16 teams. Those who came, with tickets worth Tk 50 and Tk 100, had their money’s worth as the hosts trounced UAE 6-0 with some eye-catching display.
The girls in green dominated proceedings right from the word go and took a deserved 4-0 lead by the end of the first half. Bipasha Mali started the goal-fest with a simple tap-in in the sixth minute after Kridhna Rani had dribbled past a host of UAE defenders before delivering a cut-back for the striker.
The lead was doubled three minutes later when Sanjida Akhter, arguably the best player on the pitch yesterday, found the top corner of the net with a powerful shot from inside the box. Razia Sultana thudded the crossbar with a sumptuous volley before Sanjida made it 3-0 in the 23rd minute with a clever dink from inside the box. Krishna made it 4-0 a minute before the end of the first half with a dink almost identical to Sanjida’s.
Chances kept coming at the other side of the break, and despite spurning quite a number of those, the Bangladesh girls did increase the margin in the 67th minute when Bipasha scored with a simple nod from inside the six yards.
Lipi Akhter came off the bench to create more havoc in the UAE backline, but had to wait till the first minute of stoppage time to get herself on the scoresheet. The second half performance might not have been as emphatic as the first, but the skill and footballing sense of these young Bangladesh girls have come as a pleasant surprise in these qualifiers.
Even the Iranians, who had earlier defeated India 2-1 to go top of the table alongside Bangladesh—both teams have six points each– were compelled to take notice.
“We did not think Bangladesh would play so well (against Jordan on Wednesday). Now among the remaining two matches, I think the match against Bangladesh would be a crucial one,” said Iran coach Shadi Mahini in the post-match press conference.
Iran had to come from behind to beat the highest-ranked side in this group, India. The Iranians, who had trounced UAE 9-0 in their opening match, came out all guns blazing in the second half after Premi Chiru had given India the lead in the 13th minute. Substitute forward Fatemeh Hosseini struck in the 71st minute restored parity before Fatemeh Ghasemi’s 88th minute strike ensured all three points for the Western Asian side.
The Iranians will have an extra day’s rest as South Asian rivals Bangladesh will lock horns against India while Jordan will play against UAE in the two matches tomorrow.
Source: The Daily Star