Sri Lanka go down fighting


Sri Lanka made Bangladesh work hard for their thrilling 1-0 win at the SAFF U-20 Championship, kicked off at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Monday (25). 

Mirajul Islam scored the decisive goal in the 71st minute to help Bangladesh secure three points.

Bangladesh dominated from the word go in terms of possession and created a few chances in the first 10 minutes, but failed to convert, including forward Pias Ahmed Nova who squandered a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

After surviving two scares, Sri Lanka settled down and competed effectively against Bangladesh, whose attempts to launch attacks through the flanks with long balls were let down by individual errors from receivers or passers.

Paul Smalley’s charges could hardly hold on to the ball in the attacking third, although winger Rafiqul Islam did make some inroads from the right flank, more markedly in the second half. 

However, all his efforts were in vain as they only resulted in feeble drives on target. With the forwards ineffective, the coach made some changes, among them Mirajul. He broke the deadlock in the 71st minute, squaring up to the defender and placing the ball around him into the far post after getting to a cross from defender Shahin Mia.

Six minutes later, substitute Murshed Ali drove wide from inside the box as he aimed for an open net, before Rafiqul Islam squandered another clear opportunity in stoppage time, failing to get a shot on target from the penalty area although he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Bangladesh will play their second match against hosts India on Wednesday, while Sri Lanka will meet Nepal today (27).

Earlier, Nepal started the five-team competition strongly with a 4-0 win over Maldives in the day’s first match.