Late goals make Maldives, Bangladesh share spoils at World Cup Qualifiers
Md Saad Uddin scored the equaliser for Bangladesh
Maldives and Bangladesh played out a dramatic 1-1 draw in the first leg of the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 at National Stadium on Thursday.
The home side took a late lead in the 87th minute when Hassan Nazeem came off the bench to find the back of the net, but Bangladesh found the equaliser through Md Saad Uddin in the 92nd minute to leave the tie firmly in the balance ahead of next week’s second leg.
Both teams showed plenty of caution in the early stages, but it was the hosts who created the biggest chance of the first half when Bangladesh goalkeeper Mitul Marma got enough of his gloves on the ball to parry Maldives captain Ali Fasir’s effort onto the woodwork in the 18th minute.
In the 26th minute, Rakib Hossain found himself isolated in attack for the visitors and had an effort at goal only to see his shot roll wide. Two minutes later, Mohamed Naim failed to hit the target with a header from a Hassan Shifaz cross at the opposite end.
But it was the visitors who closed the first half strongly with Hossain heading wide from a corner in the 35th minute before Foysal Ahmed Fahim passed up a gilt-edged opportunity five minutes later when his volley from close range missed the target.
Hossain continued to be the fulcrum of Bangladesh’s attacks after the restart and his low drive from the right flashed across the goal in the 54th minute.
Maldives committed bodies forward in the 65th minute but Mohammed Shakil Hossain’s crucial interception denied Hamza Mohamed’s cross from reaching Fasir in the centre.
Five minutes later, Bangladesh winger Fahim shot over with just the goalkeeper to beat before Marma once again produced a brilliant save at the other end to deny Fasir again after the Maldives skipper was played through on goal in the 77th minute.
Maldives continued to push forward and were rewarded when Bangladesh defender Tariq Raihan Kazi headed an Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain cross onto his own defender and the ball fell kindly for Nazeem to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 87th minute.
However, Bangladesh were back on level terms in injury time when Saad Uddin, who was introduced in the 89th minute, tapped in from a cross to make it 1-1.
The two teams will meet again in the return leg at Bashundhara Kings Arena in Dhaka on Tuesday with a place in the second round of the joint qualifiers on offer.
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