Dhaka: Hosts Bangladesh won the SAFF Cup, pipping the Maldives 5-3 on penalties in a thrilling final after the teams were locked 1-1 at the end of regulation time and extra time.
Bangladesh custodian Aminul Islam was the toast of the nation in front of the 45,000-strong crowd, saving the second penalty kick by Maldives’ Ashraf Luthfy as the hosts converted all their spot kicks.
Even after 30 minutes of extra time action and attacks on both sides, the 1-1 deadlock could not be broken.
Bangladesh took an early lead much to the delight of the roaring spectators when Rokonuzzaman Kanchan scored 12 minutes into the match.
Kanchan was also the first scorer in the match versus India, a match in which the defending champions went out of the title contention through a golden goal strike.
However, the footballers from the island nation, who ousted Pakistan in the semi-final, put in a spirited display and restored parity in the 57th minute with a brilliant counter-attack. Ali Umar was the man who restored parity in the 57th minute of the match.
That deadlock remained unbroken till the end of regulation time. In extra time each team was into the attack a number of times, but the final scoring remained elusive and finally the penalties had to be resorted to.
The win was a huge boost for Bangladesh soccer, especially with the victory against India in the semi-finals.