Bangladesh Advances, Defeats Maldives in World Cup Qualifiers' Second Round


Bangladesh Advances, Defeats Maldives in World Cup Qualifiers’ Second Round

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Rakib and Fahim each scored before Bangladesh, reduced to 10 men, resiliently maintained their lead, securing a 3-2 aggregate win.

Bangladesh secured advancement to the second round of the 2026 World Cup and 2027 Asian Cup joint qualifiers by defeating the Maldives 2-1 in the return leg at Kings Arena on Tuesday. The attacking duo of Rakib Hossain and Foysal Ahmed Fahim each scored before Bangladesh, reduced to 10 men, held onto the lead, securing a 3-2 win on aggregate.

In the upcoming eight months, Bangladesh will play six more qualifying matches in the second round group stage against Australia, Palestine, and Lebanon, both at home and away. The away game against Palestine is relocated to Algeria due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Coach Javier Cabrera made a single change, starting Saad Uddin over Isa Faysal at left back, rewarding Uddin for his equalizing goal in the previous match in Male. Rakib’s 11th-minute volley, assisted by Fahim, opened the scoring. Despite Maldives goalkeeper Hussain Shareef’s efforts, Bangladesh maintained their lead. Three minutes later, Shareef tipped away Fahim’s volley for a corner.

Shareef’s stretched leg denied Rakib a one-on-one opportunity, preventing Bangladesh from extending the lead just before the half-hour mark. Mitul Marma, making his international debut during the first leg as a replacement for suspended first-choice goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico, produced a solid save against Hamza Mohamed’s shot at the near post.

Rakib and Fahim continued to challenge the Maldives defense with speed and skill. Rakib’s attempt, following a Jamal Bhuiyan cross, bounced over the goal. Aisam Ibrahim leveled the score in the 36th minute with a header after a deflected corner.

Fahim shone for the hosts, and within a minute after the break, the 21-year-old scored, giving Bangladesh the lead. Saad’s cross was punched away by Shareef, reaching Mohammad Sohel Rana, whose control slipped, but Fahim was perfectly positioned for his first international goal.

Despite Sohel’s red card for a sliding challenge, leaving Bangladesh with ten men, it didn’t impact the outcome. Substitute Mojibur Rahman Jony proved challenging for the Maldives, and their defender Ahnaf Rasheed received a red card in injury time for fouling Jony as the last man.

Bangladesh begins their second-round campaign against Australia on November 16 away and hosts Lebanon on November 21.


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