Bangladesh show fight, but lose to Socceroos

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Bangladesh stood their ground against Australia in their second leg match of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, but couldn’t avoid a 2-0 defeat against the superior opponents on a ‘heavy’ field at the Bashundhara Kings Arena in Dhaka yesterday.

The hosts put up a stiff resistance throughout the match against the Socceroos, who are 160 places ahead of Bangladesh in the FIFA rankings, and conceded a defeat which could be considered respectable compared to their 7-0 thrashing in the first leg in Melbourne.

Bangladesh managed to keep Australia at bay for almost 29 minutes before Ajdin Hrustic broke the deadlock with a left-footed strike. The second goal came in the 62nd minute with Kusini Yengi heading the ball home.

“I always said the result was not that important to me. The objective was to improve the performance, which we did not do in Melbourne and I think we achieved that objective regardless of the result,” said Bangladesh coach Javier Cabrera after the match.

“So [we did] extremely well in defending in the whole game and there were also outstanding work in marking the players, maintaining the defense line and defending the set pieces.

“We could have played more with the ball in the first half, having a couple of combinations but we lacked a bit in confidence,” said a happy Cabrera who wants his side take the positives from their valiant fight against 24th ranked side in the world.

Australia coach Graham Arnold, however, expressed his displeasure with the condition of the pitch but also praised Bangladesh for their fight.

“I am very proud of the players today [Thursday]. Obviously, we don’t get to play in these types of conditions… The pitch was poor and it was unacceptable and it’s no shock to me that six players from Bangladesh were cramping, their calf muscles and hamstrings. It’s not good. I’m being very honest,” Arnold said.

However, Cabrera did not agree with Arnold’s assessment.

“It wasn’t muddy, it was heavy, depends on how you see it. May be in the beginning it was advantageous for us because it was not easy for them [Australia] to move quickly but to me, the pitch was totally playable after the rain of two or three days.

“I understand him [Arnold] because they are used to having top-class facilities. But top-class facilities are not available everywhere in football… I think the pitch we played is very very decent for Asian matches,” Cabrera said.

The defeat ends the mathematical chances of Bangladesh qualifying for the next stage of the qualifiers.

Bangladesh are at the bottom of the four-team Group I with one point in five matches, which came from a 1-1 draw at home against Lebanon.

Australia have already sealed qualification as group champions, with five wins in as many matches while Palestine are in second position with seven points.

Had Bangladesh managed an upset win over Australia and won their final match against Lebanon and Palestine had lost their last two matches, Bangladesh could’ve made it to the next phase as group runners-up.

LondonGBDESK//

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