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SAFF U-16: Bangladesh set to play final against India

Two-time champions Bangladesh moved into the final of the SAFF U-16 Championship after five years with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Pakistan in the second semifinal at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu on Friday.

Bangladesh will play Sunday’s final against four-time champions India, who stormed into the final with an 8-0 thrashing of Maldives in the first semifinal.

Murshed Ali and Abu Sayed struck one goal apiece for Bangladesh in the first half after Abdul Ghani had given Pakistan an early lead in their first appearance in the regional tournament in five years.

Since clinching the second trophy in 2018, Bangladesh could not qualify for the final in the last two editions in 2019 and 2022, but this time the charges of Saiful Islam Moni had set their target on regaining the trophy.

The boys in red and green came close to taking the lead in the very first minute but Swe Mong Sing Marma’s close-range attempt was saved from the goalline by a Pakistani defender.

Bangladesh, however, conceded the lead against the run of play as Ghani, availing a defence-splitting through-pass, brilliantly placed the ball over Bangladesh goalkeeper Nahidul Islam in the sixth minute.

Bangladesh did not take much time to hit back as Murshed nodded a well-judged cross from Sayed in the 14th minute before Sayed himself doubled the lead by driving a low cross from captain Nazmul Huda Faisal in the 29th minute.

Pakistan put some pressure on the defence of Bangladesh, who however wasted some goal-scoring chances to leave the pitch with smiles on their faces.