Choton hails Bangladesh's ‘best achievement in women’s football’
Chonburi: Golam Robbani Choton praised his players after his Bangladesh side earned a 2-2 draw in their AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 clash with Australia on Saturday, labelling it the country’s best achievement in the women’s game.
Already out of knockout stage contention, and still reeling from a 9-0 defeat to Japan three days prior, few gave the South Asian side a chance at IPE Chonburi Stadium, but a committed team performance and two goals from promising striker Tohura Khatun earned them a historic first ever Finals point.
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Choton – who also coaches the Bangladeshi senior team - said the fact that his side’s result came against an opponents with the pedigree of Australia made it a new high for the country in women’s football
“Yes, of course,” said the 51-year-old, whose involvement with the women’s national team dates back nearly a decade.
“For me – not only me, but the whole of Bangladesh women’s football - this is the highest achievement we have had. Getting a draw against such a big team like Australia.
“This shows our girls that we can do it in the future. They proved it today.”
Having qualified for a second successive tilt at the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship, Bangladesh arrived in Chonburi with high hopes, but a narrow opening loss to hosts Thailand was followed by a humbling defeat against Japan as they became the first team to be eliminated.
Choton was delighted to see his side bounce back with a much-improved showing against Australia, but also left to ponder what might have been if his side had been able to maintain the same level of performance throughout the competition.
“We are not really happy, because today the girls showed that they can play in a big tournament,” explained.
“The first match against Thailand was very unfortunate that we lost, and then the second was a disaster for our team, but we came back very strongly today and played very well against Australia.
“The difference was a mental one. After having the two defeats we tried to motivate the players, and they were mentally ready and tried their best to show how much they have developed.
“This is football. We lost the Thailand match from a set-piece, and today we had a draw with a good team.”
Key to Bangladesh’s performance was striker Khatun, who, despite being isolated as a lone striker, twice managed to find the net twice after ghosting in behind the Australia back four, giving her side a shock 2-1 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining.
The 16-year-old – already capped at senior international level and tipped for future stardom by Choton – shared her coach’s view that Bangladesh’s draw was a new high for the country’s women’s football programme.
“Yes, I do agree with the coach because Australia are a world class team, and we were able to draw,” she said after becoming the first Bangladesh player to score multiple goals at the tournament.
“It is a great achievement. We came here and we have played against many countries, but Australia are one of the top teams.”
While Bangladesh return home with a spring in their step, Australia remain in the competition, but acutely aware they will need to improve their output if they are to challenge the eventual Group B winners in Thursday’s semi-finals.
Australian coach Rae Dower made it clear that her side hadn’t executed their tactics as planned against Bangladesh, but backed her Junior Matildas to grow from the experience with a place in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup on the line in their next fixture.
“I’m disappointed for the girls, because I know how hard they’ve worked for the past 12 months and certainly this particular match doesn’t define our 12 months. I’m disappointed for them because of all the effort they’ve put in,” she explained."
“From that perspective it’s a great lesson we learn. We progress to the semi-finals, so the best learnings can come from what has happened today and we can apply that in our next match.
“If this was the difference between going home and staying in the tournament then we’d be obviously be extremely disappointed, but there are some great learning moments for 15 and 16-year-old girls.
“We’ll have a day off tomorrow, get back to work, and strive to be better in our next match.”
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