Syed Nayeemuddin's debut as the Bangladesh coach ended in disappointment as his boys went down meekly to top-seeds Syria in the second match of the ONGC Nehru Cup, at the Ambedkar Stadium on Saturday. Maher Al Sayed and Zayad Chaabo’s second-half strikes spoilt Nayeemuddin’s evening.
Punctuated with sporadic attacks from both sides, the first half was erratic. Defence didn’t seem the strongest suit of either team but strikers failing to exploit that meant there were no goals. Surprisingly, in the context of how it ended, Bangladesh looked the better of the two sides, enjoyed more possession and were much more organized in the first 45 minutes.
Configured in a 5-3-2 formation, Bangladesh’s strategy was simple — pack the defence and rely on counterattacks. It worked as it managed to frustrate the Syrian strikers. All that though changed after the lemon break.
Syria began on a more positive note and took only two minutes to stamp their superiority on the game.
Al Sayed, famous for his goal-scoring abilities back home, was always expected to pose a few problems to the inexperienced Bangladesh defenders. After an ordinary first half, he received Wael Ayan cross from the right and blasted home past a hapless Bangladesh goalkeeper Biplab Bhattacharjee.
High on Sayed’s strike, Syrians started to make forays into the Bangladesh half on a regular basis. Sayed was again in the thick of things in the 84th minute when he swiftly collected a Ali Dyeb push and passed to Zyad Chaabo, who got the insurance goal. Nayeem’s Bangla tigers could never recover from the double blow.