MOHAMED Yusuf Hardan helped lift Bahrain to 1-0 victory over Bangladesh last night to make a winning start to their Group ‘B’ campaign in the qualifying competition for next year’s Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Championship.
Hardan found the net in the 21st minute and the hosts managed to hold on to their advantage until the final whistle to claim the full three points.
Hardan slammed home a powerful low effort past Bangladeshi goalkeeper Anisur Rahman and into the bottom corner.
The Bahrainis had other chances to score in the match, but they could not apply the finishing touches.
Rahman was also a key factor, making a number of key saves for the Bangladeshis to keep their hopes alive in the match. His contributions were highlighted by a 56th-minute double save which denied both Bahrain’s Hassan Madan and Mohamed Marhoon after a set-piece.
The Bahrainis had the ball in the net two minutes later, but it was waved off due to Ahmed Bughammar’s offside position.
Bahrain head coach Samir Ben Chammam said in his post-match Press conference that his team played a good match and added that he was pleased with the three points, which he said was important to begin the qualification process.
Bahrain will now look to continue their winning form when they play their second Group ‘B’ qualifier against Sri Lanka tomorrow, while Bangladesh have no room for error in their clash against in-form Palestine.
The Palestinians crushed their Sri Lankan counterparts 9-0 in yesterday’s other divisional clash played at the Khalifa Sports City stadium in Isa Town. The winners scored four of their goals in the first half.
A win for Bahrain tomorrow would give them one foot in the AFC U23 Championship, to be played in Thailand in January 2020. The Bahrainis are attempting to book their place in the competition for a fourth consecutive edition.
Only the 11 group winners and four best second-placed teams qualify for the tournament, with hosts Thailand receiving an automatic berth.