Victory surprises Bangladesh coach Titu

New Bangladesh coach Saiful Bari Titu admits even he was surprised as the South Asian Games champions continued their recent form with a shock 2-1 win over former AFC Challenge Cup champions Tajikistan in Tuesday’s Group A opener at Sugathadasa Stadium.

Showing no ill effects following the departure of Serbian coach Zoran Djordjevic on the eve of the tournament after last week’s gold medal triumph on home soul in Dhaka, Bangladesh produced an often superb display of flowing attacking football which left the 2008 finalists stunned.

After a goalless first half Bangladesh were rewarded for a long period of sustained possession as Mohammed Enamul fired home from a tight angle eight minutes after the hour mark.

And despite Yusuf Rabiev equalising two minutes later, Bangladesh shrugged off the setback and Meshu headed home a cross from the lively Ameli with 11 minutes remaining to seal a memorable win before Tajikistan’s Farrukh Choriev was sent-off in the closing stages.

“I am very happy because they picked up from where they left off in the South Asian Games. I think we surprised Tajikistan because they didn’t expect us to play that much attacking football and press in their half, they had no answer to that most of the time. All credit to my players, they did excellent,” said Titu, who had previously been part of Djordjevic’s backroom staff.

“I am also actually a little bit surprised how we played because in the last meetings with Tajikistan we lost heavily apart from one draw in Dhaka.

“We played the same way we did in the South Asian Games when we pressed all the time, but I am still a little surprised.”

Titu reserved special praise for full-back Nasir whose darting run and shot created the opening for Enamul’s strike.

Tajikistan beat Bangladesh 6-1 on aggregate at the start of the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign following a 5-0 victory in Dushanbe in October 2007, but coach Pulod Kodirov admits his side were simply beaten by the better team who were able to take their chances.

“It was a good match and each side wanted to get the three points, but I think the crucial thing was Bangladesh prepared better than Tajikistan. Both teams had chances to score, but Bangladesh took advantage of their chances,” he said.

“The first match is always difficult and anything can happen. Our defenders did not play well and also our strikers could not score. Bangladesh were better on the day, they had two attacks and were able to score.”

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