Bangladesh went ahead in the 25th minute of the game from an own goal before Pakistan cancelled the lead from a penalty early in the second half
Bangladesh emerged as the champion of the Saff U-15 Championship after beating Pakistan 3-2 in the penalty shootout in the final at ANFA Complex in Kathmandu, Nepal Saturday, thanks to “tie-breaker specialist” Mehedi Hasan for another spectacular display in the shoot-out.
Bangladesh went ahead in the 25th minute of the game from an own goal before Pakistan cancelled the lead from a penalty early in the second half.
The stipulated time ended 1-1 with no extra-time, according to the rules of the tournament.
Before the game rolled towards the tie-breaker, semi-final hero Mehedi replaced first-choice goalkeeper Mitul Marma in the last minute of stipulated time.
Mitul had a fine game but in his absence in the last four against India, Mehedi stole the show with a couple of superb saves in the tie-breaker.
Mehedi appeared as a hero once again for the youngsters in red and green from the first penalty, taken by Junaid Ahmed, which the young keeper saved with a fine dive to his left.
He then produced another timely dive to the opposite direction to deny Pakistan’s second effort by Adnan Justin.
Mehedi made his third save against striker Mudassar Nazar, which won Bangladesh the game.
Head coach Mostafa Anwar Parvez Babu made only one change from the previous game, bringing back Mitul in between the posts after his suspension.
Back to the game, Bangladesh dominated the early stage with Nihat Jaman Uchchash went close with a couple of efforts in the quarter-hour mark, with his initial shot from inside the box going wide, before another effort moments later rolled past the far post.
Bangladesh moved ahead in the 25th minute.
Nazmul Ahmed Shakil orchestrated constant threats on the left flank and earned his side a throw-in, followed by a corner taken from where Pakistan defender Haseeb Ahmed Khan headed the ball into his own net.
Pakistan equalised nine minutes into the second half after defender Helal Ahmed gave away a penalty.
Mohib Ullah made no mistake from the spot.
Bangladesh had a decent chance to move ahead again in the 74th minute but this time, Uchchash’s header from a Ebne Ahad Sakil corner was saved by the keeper.
Apart from Mehedi’s three saves, Towhidul Islam Hridoy, Mohammad Raja Ansari and Mohammad Rustom Islam converted their chances in the shootout while Mohammad Rajon Hawlader and Mohammad Rabiul Alam fluffed their lines.
First-choice keeper Mitul made way for Mehedi as a “tie-breaker specialist” after normal time.
Mehedi expressed gratitude to the coaches for making him a better keeper against penalties.
Uchchash became the top-scorer of the tournament with four goals and informed after the game that it was his target to achieve the feat.
While dedicating the win to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a happy Parvez said after the game, “Can’t express my feeling in words. The players worked hard on the pitch. We tried to play following the guidance of our technical director Paul Smalley. The game was like a war against Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, Bangladesh also won the fair play award.
It was Bangladesh’s second title in five editions of the competition with the last one being the Saff U-16 Championship three years ago.
Bangladesh U-15 1 (Mohib 55) 1 Pakistan U-15 (Haseeb 25)
Bangladesh won 3-2 on penalties
Top-scorer – Nihat Jaman Uchchash
Fair-play award – Bangladesh
ROLL OF HONOUR
Year Champion Runners-up
2011 Pakistan India
2013 India Nepal
2015 Bangladesh India
2017 India Nepal
2018 Bangladesh Pakistan
Source: Dhaka Tribune.