POST TIME: 1 January, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Women’s teams outshine men footballers
M Anwar Ullah

Women’s teams outshine men footballers

Bangladesh U-15 women’s team give a victory lap after beating India in the final of SAFF U-15 Football Championship at Kamlapur Stadium recently. BFF PHOTO

Football and hockey, two popular disciplines, ran through the year 2017 without any significant success but the year ended on a happy note with the winning of the maiden title of the SAFF Under-15 Women’s Football Championship and the Bangladesh hockey team clinching the coveted sixth position in the Asian Cup.

The Bangladesh national football team lost the scope of playing any international match this year after conceding a woeful defeat to Bhutan in a playoff match in Bhutan of the 2018 World Cup qualifier. But the national and age-group women’s football teams celebrated some success and the age-group national football (men’s) teams had mixed experiences with some successes and failures.

 The Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) could not keep to the domestic calendar of events it had announced early in the year.

 The most important football league—the Bangladesh Premier League—was badly interrupted since it started on July 28, 2017.

 The league was also a late starter; it was supposed to begin from the end of May or early June. Then, after it started, various reasons—sometimes bad weather, sometimes important national and international programmes held at the Bangabandhu National Stadium—hampered the league, which is yet to be completed.

 But some of the minor leagues, including the second tire of the professional category, the Champions League, began and ended smoothly on time.

 However, despite some of the disappointments, the Football Federation can derive satisfaction from the results of the age-group women’s football teams that were, undoubtedly, very impressive.

 The women’s teams kept up their continuity of successes achieved in 2015 and 2016 by winning the title of the regional AFC Under-14 (twice) and Under-16, and qualified for the final round, the highest level of the AFC competition, where the top eight giants of Asia including World Cup champion countries such as South Korea, North Korea, China, Australia, and Thailand usually compete.

 The Under-15 national women’s football team deserves some credit for getting the maiden title of the SAFF Under-15 Football Championship after remaining unbeaten in four matches at the end of 2017 (December 17–24).

 The host girls proved too good for the competitors as they crushed Nepal by 6-0, and Bhutan and India by 3-0 each to storm into the final of the championship, and finished in style with back-to-back win against India, the SAFF region giant, by 1-0.

 The senior women’s national team also had some success when they won the runners-up trophy of the SAFF Championship 2017, in Shiliguri, India, after conceding a 1-3 defeat to India.

The National Under-18 men’s football team won the runners-up trophy in the SAFF Under-18 Championship by defeating India by 4-3, Maldives by 2-0, Bhutan by 3-0, but lost to Nepal 1-2.

 In the AFC Under-19 championship qualifying round held in Tajikistan, the Bangladesh team won three matches out of four. They drew with the hosts 0-0, beat Maldives by 1-0 and Sri Lanka by 4-0, but went down to Uzbekistan by a solitary goal.  

 In the SAFF Under-15 championship, Bangladesh could manage the third position, when, in the group leg, they defeated Sri

Lanka by 4-0, Bhutan by 3-0, but went down to Nepal by 2-4 in the semi-final. In the match to decide the third position, they thrashed Bhutan by 8-0.

 Bangladesh hockey, which had been going through a tough time over the past two years, could earn some solace when it organised the 10th Asia Cup Hockey with the participation of eight top Asian teams, and Bangladesh clinched sixth place they expected and they earned the feat by defeating China.

Besides football and hockey, the Bangladesh Archery Federation successfully organised the Asian Archery Championship with the participation of 31 countries. The best result of the Bangladesh women’s team was to reach the semi-final stage in the compound event, while the men’s compound team qualified for the quarter-final phase in the recurve team events.