Bangladesh survived a scare as Pakistan did everything apart from scoring a goal in the crucial tie of the group B match of the Bangabandhu SAFF Championship at the Bangabandhu National Stadium ended goalless on Sunday.
The draw kept Bangladesh alive in the track of the semi-finals with a draw against Sri Lanka enough while Pakistan virtually out with Bhutan. If Bangladesh loses to Sri Lanka, then goal average will be the deciding factor. The draw ensured a semi-final slot to Sri Lanka.
Pakistan clearly the superior side of the two started attacking from the very beginning and Bangladesh defence spent a turbulent time in the first fifteen minutes. Pakistani forward Arif Mehmood lived dangerously and bamboozled the defence in the right flank.
However, Bangladesh defence comprised with Rajani, Waly Faisal, Arif and Mamun Miah took all the pressure as the midfield failed to counter the power play implemented by the Pakistani attackers.
However, Bangladesh kept their cool and waited for the opportunities adopting a counter attacking approach. Nasir occasionally tormenting the Pakistani defence with his quick footed runs succeeded to find Enamul in the middle of the opposition D-box in the 16th minute but Enamuls fierce grounder deflected off a defenders feet.
Pakistan hit back in the 27th minute and Safiullah Khan missed the line of the ball in his attempted diving header off a Mahmood Ali cross.
Bangladesh midfielder Uzzal sneaked through the midfield in he 41st minute and whipped a perfect cross for waiting Emily but Pakistani central defender Atif Bashir’s timely interception deprived Emily.
Bangladesh was unfortunate four minutes after the resumption when Uzzal curved a corner from the left flank flag and Enamul saw his header cleared from the goal line by Mahmood Ali much to the dismay of the vocal Bangladeshi supporters.
Pakistan sensing the down ward trend of Bangladesh piled up all the pressure cornering the hosts. All the Bangladesh players gathered in the box to keep the forte unharmed. Forward Enamul arrived as the saviour in the 70th minute as a defender when he deflected Shabir Khans goal bound side-volley off a Jadeed Khan cross for a corner.
Pakistan won five free-kicks at all the edge of Bangladesh box but failed to dip in on our four occasions and the other went straight to the gloves of Bangladesh custodian Aminul.
Pakistan exhausted after all the hard work survived from conceding a goal in the 74th minute when Nasir danced own the right flank unleashing a neat minus for Emily who was too sluggish to reach the ball. A gentle toe-pock would have been enough for breaking the deadlock.
Pakistan continued to lack the finishing edge in the remaining minutes while Bangladesh was eager to pass the time with a negative brand of football.
Bangladesh coach Shahidur Rahman Chowdhury Shantoo was a relieved man. “ We survived from a defeat which would have made our semi-final hopes more than difficult,
Pakistan dominated the scene but we got the two clear cut chances, we wanted a point and adopted a defensive strategy in the second half, we succeeded to achieve it.” said Shantoo.
Pakistani coach George Kottan declined to comment about the match first but later said his team did everything apart from scoring a goal and he was also critical about the referring.