Kuwait pip Bangladesh to enter final in maiden attempt!

Kuwait defeated Bangladesh by a solitary extra-time goal to reach the final of the SAFF Championship at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday, July 1.

After 90 minutes of regulation time ended in a goalless draw, Abdullah Albloushi scored the only goal of the match with a low shot during the additional time of first half in extra time, thus ending Bangladesh’s hopes of making the final. Kuwait are playing in the SAFF Championship as an invited team along with Lebanon for the first time and have made the title round in their maiden attempt.

Bangladesh started the game on a strong note, testing Kuwait goalkeeper Abdulrahman Marzouq in the early minutes. Within the first five minutes of kick-off, the Bengal Tigers had an attempt on target via Shekh Morsalin saved by the Kuwait custodian.

Kuwait too picked up pace as the clock ticked and came close to scoring in the 10th minute. Bangladesh’s Mohammed Isa Faysal was in the right place to clear the ball off the line following a well-taken corner kick.

The two sides continued to fight the midfield battle with the intention of gaining control over the game. However, both lacked the cutting edge when it came to finishing in the final third.

The final chance of the first 45 minutes came Kuwait’s way when Eid Alrashidi played a couple of clever short passes with his teammates before pulling the trigger from the edge of the box. His powerful shot forced Bangladesh goalkeeper Anisur Rahman to make a diving save.

At the stroke of 60 minutes, Rakib Hossain came tantalisingly close for Bangladesh. Morsalin delivered a perfectly-weighted pass on the counter and Hossain went for glory from a very tight angle. Unfortunately, his blistering shot hit the underside of the crossbar and went wide on the left and out of play.

Kuwait, too, missed a couple of opportunities in quick succession, the closest one coming in the 64th minute. Khaled Hajiah struck well from a free-kick earned in the dangerous area, but Anisur Rahman managed to punch it away and he also blocked the attempt from the rebound.

Eventually, neither of the sides could find the back of the net as the scoreline remained 0-0 at the end of the 90 minutes and the game went into extra time. Anisur Rahman, who was at his best this evening, performed two brilliant saves for Bangladesh in the 8th minute of extra time. Mohammad Abdullah set up Shabaib Alkhaldi who drove it on target from close range. But Rahman managed to keep his effort at bay and keep Bangladesh in the game.

However, Rahman had no answer when Kuwait managed to find his way past him in the additional time of the first half of the extra time. Abdullah Albloushi marched forward on the counter and found the bottom left corner with a low shot to give the Middle East nation a 1-0 lead at a crucial time.

Bangladesh came inches close to equalising in the 118th minute when Rakib Hossain found himself in a one-on-one situation with Kuwait goalkeeper Marzouq. The latter, however, managed to put his foot out in time to deny the attacker.

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