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Asian Qualifiers - Group E: Draw dents Bangladesh, Afghanistan's hopes

Doha: Bangladesh scored late to hold Afghanistan to a 1-1 draw in Group E of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on Thursday.

The result did neither team a favour for their qualification hopes with Afghanistan moving to five points while Bangladesh are on two points.

Up next for Bangladesh are India on Monday, while Afghanistan will face Oman on June 11 with both teams' hopes of automatically advancing to the third round of the Qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 hanging in the balance.

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Bangladesh, who lost 1-0 in the teams' first meeting in September 2019, started on the backfoot as Afghanistan dominated the early possession with Faysal Shayesteh, Ahmad Omran Haydary and Amir Sharifi forming a three-pronged attack.

Afghanistan had a chance to take the lead in the 13th minute when they were awarded a free-kick but Shayesteh fired his effort into the sea of Bangladesh defenders.

Bangladesh gave Afghanistan a minor scare in the 16th minute when Masuk Miah Zoni found a way past his markers down the left flank but his cross was intercepted by Milad Intezar.

Afghanistan had another half chance in the 23rd minute but David Ahmed Najem's shot from inside the box was easily saved by Bangladesh custodian Anisur Rahman.

Anoush Dastgir’s faith in his strikers, however, finally paid dividends eight minutes after the restart when Mohammad M. Sharif set Najem free on the right and the defender found Sharifi who calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.

Bangladesh had a chance to draw level in the 74th minute when Rakib Hossain broke free of his markers down the right flank but the forward’s shot on goal left much to be desired.

Bangladesh’s persistence was, however, finally rewarded in the 83rd minute when Sohel Rana nodded down a cross into the path of Topu Barman, who controlled the ball beautifully before slotting home the equaliser past Afghanistan’s Ovays Azizi.

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