Bangladesh U-15 players and coaching staff celebrate after beating India in the semi-final of SAFF U-15 Championship at the ANFA Complex ground in Kathmandu on Tuesday. Photo: BD Post

Bangladesh U-15 football team have reached the final of six-nation SAFF U-15 Championship by beating reigning champions India by 4-2 on penalty shootout in the first semi-final at the ANFA Complex ground in Kathmandu.
Bangladesh will play Pakistan in the final on Nov 3. Pakistan ran riot over hosts Nepal by 4-0 in the second semifinal.
The match started off really badly for the boys in red and green, India broke the deadlock early in 17th minute, with a goal from Petre Harsh Shailesh. It was a goal worth remembering for the Indian fans as the distance was 35 yards from where the ball was shot.
Shailesh’s long range stunning long range effort was the difference between the two sides. India largely dominated with possession but Bangladesh tried to counter but failing to score. First half ended at 1-0.
The second half started off with the same tempo as the Indians dominated largely with the ball.
Bangladesh tried to attack but the team chemistry was not there enough in the final third. When the match was almost heading for Indian victory, in the dying minutes (93rd minute) of the match Bangladesh were awarded a penalty.
Forward Rasel Ahmed earned the penalty. Then, Ashiqur Rahman stepped up converted it successfully to equalise the score line.
Then in the penalty shootout Bangladesh converted four of their five shots while India managed only two. Bangladesh goalkeeper Mehedi Hasan was the hero as he saved two spot kicks.
After U-15 girls recent excellent performances in the SAFF tournaments, there were talks about girls doing well in contrast to boys. However, with Thursday’s win over India the young Tigers of Bangladesh proved that they are also up there to earn supremacy.
Bangladesh head coach Mostofa Parvez Babu was delighted with the win against but said they are already thinking about the final. “We had a great victory against India in the semifinal but our mission is not over yet and it is not the right time to celebrate. We are already thinking and
planning for our final against Pakistan,” said Parvej after their victory against India.
Earlier, Bangladesh emerged Group A champions with all-win record to reach the semifinals beating hosts Nepal by 2-1 goals in the last group match after crushing the Maldives by 9-0 goals in the first match, featuring a hat-trick by Nihad Jaman while Nepal outplayed the Maldives 4-0 in their first appearance on Thursday last.
On the other hand, Pakistan clinched Group B title beating India by 2-1 goals and Bhutan by 4-0 goals while India finished Group B runners-up beating Bhutan by 4-0 goals.
Bangladesh had made it to the final of this tournament once before, when they hosted the tournament in 2015. In that game also beat the young guns of Bangladesh beat India 4-2 in penalty shootout after the match was tied at 1-1 after regulation time.

Talha Kamal