Bangladesh Advances with Spirited Performance to Next Round


Bangladesh Advances with Spirited Performance to Next Round

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Bangladesh’s spirited performance secured a 2-1 home leg victory over the Maldives, earning them qualification for the World Cup 2026 qualifier on Tuesday. Following a 1-1 draw in the away leg last week, they advance to the group stage, set to face Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Australia. Rakib opened the scoring, Aisam Ibrahim equalized, and Fahim gave Bangladesh the lead in the second half. Despite Sohel Rana’s 59th-minute dismissal reducing them to 10 men, Javier Cabrera’s team displayed remarkable determination, holding onto their lead with valor and tenacity for the remaining 31 minutes.

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Following a spirited performance, Bishwanath Halder, the defensive linchpin, celebrated by waving the Palestine flag to a house-full crowd at the Bashundhara Kings Arena. The enthusiastic spectators, holding both Bangladesh and Palestine flags, reveled in the victory lap.

The Bangladesh coach introduced winger Saad Uddin in this match, replacing Issa Faisal. The team started with a 4-4-2 formation, transitioning to 4-2-3-1 as needed. In the 11th minute, Rakib scored the first goal after a precise cutback from Faysal Ahmed Fahim, who received a pass from Saad.

Fahim had a chance to double the lead four minutes later, but his acrobatic shot from Jamal’s cross was expertly saved by Maldives goalkeeper Hussain Sharif. Sharif continued his heroics in the 29th minute, deflecting Rakib’s one-on-one shot. Mitul Marma, Bangladesh’s goalkeeper, matched the effort, saving a diagonal shot from Hamza Mohammad four minutes later.

Rakib faced misfortune in the 34th minute as his shot, off a Jamal Bhuiyan cross, hit the bar. However, Maldives equalized two minutes later when Ibrahim headed the ball home from a Hamza corner.

Bangladesh swiftly regained the lead in the first minute after halftime. Saad’s powerful shot, overlapping from the left, was initially saved by the Maldives keeper. Still, the rebound fell to Fahim, who confidently slotted the ball home.

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Sohel Rana received his second yellow card with a rough tackle at the hour mark, leaving Maldives with a numerical advantage. Despite a barrage of attacks from the hosts, Bangladesh countered effectively. The coach deployed an extra defender, forming a five-man defense, and the team maintained harmony with spirited play.

However, their strategy went beyond mere defending. Bangladesh frequently pushed forward, with impressive crosses from the right to left winger Johnny. In one such attack, a Maldives defender fouled the last man, receiving a direct yellow card in the 93rd minute.

Although Bangladesh couldn’t convert the subsequent free kick from a dangerous position, they held firm, securing a hard-earned victory. Their next challenge awaits against Australia in Melbourne for the first qualifying match on November 17.


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