U-16 girls qualify for second round

Bangladesh emerged as unbeaten champions of Group F of the first round of the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Qualifiers after handing a 2-0 defeat to Vietnam at the Birshreshtha Shaheed Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur yesterday.

Bangladesh Beat Vietnam 2-0 to emerge Group F champions

Striker Saraban Tohura scored in stoppage time of the first half before centre-back Akhi Khatun wrapped up the victory in the 63rd minute of the game, which was purely dominated by the hosts. Tohura had put the ball into the opposition net three more times, but her efforts were ruled out for offside.

Bangladesh, who had qualified for the final round as group champions of the same competition two years ago, finished the group with maximum 12 points from four matches to become one of the eight teams that will compete in the second qualifying round, which will be held in Thailand in February next year. Vietnam, despite losing the crucial match, have gone through as one of the two best runners-up. Australia, China, Iran, Laos, Philippines and Myanmar are the other teams to have qualified for the next round.

The eight teams will be split into two groups and the top two teams of each group will qualify for next year’s final round in September, where North Korea, South Korea, Japan and hosts Thailand have received automatic qualification.

Both Bangladesh and Vietnam came into the final group match with a hundred per cent record and an equal goal difference of +25. Neither team knew beforehand whether second-place would be enough for them to qualify. Hence there was a sense of urgency among both teams to secure the victory.

The hosts, however, dominated proceedings right from the word go, controlling possession in midfield and launching attacks, mostly through the wings. Vietnam, on the other hand, made things tougher for Bangladesh with some dogged defending, limiting the hosts’ attempts at goal from outside the box. Bangladesh thought they had the goal in the 37th minute, but Tohura’s excellent effort was controversially ruled offside, with the referee taking time to consult with the linesman before confirming.

However, the relentless pressure from the hosts paid off in the first minute of stoppage time, Tohura headed home from the goalline after Anai Mogini’s cross slipped through the fingers of Vietnam goalkeeper Dao Thi Kieu Oanh and Shamsunnahar Jr. poked it towards goal.

Bangladesh were more dominant after the break as the Vietnamese girls failed to match their effort from the first half and Akhi was at hand to poke home a rebound in the 63rd minute after Maria Manda’s corner was blasted to the post by Shamsunnahar Jr. Akhi’s first effort was blocked by the goalkeeper, but the tall centre-back made no mistake to find the corner of the net with her second effort.

Tohura, meanwhile, had two more efforts ruled out either way of the second Bangladesh goal, those two decisions were more straight-forward than the first one, however, the hosts were hardly bothered as they cruised to a comfortable victory.

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