ANI Photo | SAFF Championship: Lebanon beat former world champions Bangladesh 2-0

Lebanon earned full points in their opening Group B match of the SAFF Championship 2023 when they defeated former champions Bangladesh 2-0 at the Kanteerava Stadium on Thursday.
Two late goals from Hassan Maatouk and Khalil Bader were enough to break Bangladesh’s resistance, as per a press release from All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Lebanon, ranked 99 in the FIFA rankings, are one of the two teams who are playing in the SAFF Championship for the first time as they have been invited from outside of the SAFF region.
Lebanon clearly enjoyed more possession of the ball in the first half. But Bangladesh fought toe to toe in the first half to keep Lebanon at bay.
Bangladesh’s Spanish Head Coach, Javier Fernandez Cabrera Martin Penato opted to play with five midfielders keeping lone striker Mohammed Suman Reza upfront. His strategy was clear – to keep the defence tight and wait for the opportunities to catch the rivals on the wrong foot on counter-attacks. Bangladesh skipper Jamal Bhuyan orchestrated much of Bangladesh’s attack from the middle of the park.
Bangladesh’s best chance of the match came in the 59th minute. A defence-splitting pass from the midfield put Mohammed Foysal Ahmed Fahim face to face with Lebanon’s keeper Ali Sabeh. He had only Ali Sabeh to beat but he shot straight to the keeper.
A costly defensive error from Bangladesh’s central defender Tariq Raihan Kazi helped Lebanon score the first goal in the 79th minute. As Tariq Kazi attempted to play out from the back, the ball fell for Karim Darwich who after a solo run squared off for Hassan Maatouk. Hassan kept his calm to score past Anisur Rahman.
Khalil Bader struck the second goal well into the added time when he tapped into an empty net following a pass from Zein Al Abidine Farran from the right.
Lebanon will face Bhutan and Bangladesh will play against the Maldives on June 25.

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