Monday, January 22, 2018 | ePaper

BD win SAFF U-15 women soccer, earn gold medal in shooting in Islamic Solidarity Games

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A T M Nurun Nabi :
Sports in Bangladesh are a popular form of entertainment as well as an essential part of Bangladeshi culture. Kabaddi is the national sport of Bangladesh. However, cricket and football are considered as the most popular sports in this land. Bangladesh achieved arguably their greatest heights in ODI cricket when they defeated three of the top-rated teams in 2015.
In the month of April of that year, they whitewashed Pakistan and clinched the series 3-0. It was another major achievement when they won a series against India 2-1 in June 2015. They stunned South Africa, defeating them 2-1 in an ODI series in the month of July and cemented their spot in Champions Trophy, 2017. Traditional sports like Athletics, Swimming, Kabaddi, Volleyball, Boli Khela and Lathi Khela are mostly played in the rural areas while foreign sports like cricket, football, hockey, volleyball, handball, golf and badminton are more popular among the urban people. There arein total 42 different sports federations affiliated with the NSC. Bangladesh Games is the largest domestic multi-sport tournament in the country where athletes and sports teams from all the districts participate.
The 2017 ICC Champions Trophy was the eighth ICC Champions Trophy, a cricket tournament of the eight top ranked One Day International (ODI) teams in the world. It was held in England and Wales from 1 June to 18 June this year. Pakistan won the competition for the first time with a 180-run victory over India in the final at Oval. The margin of victory was the largest by any team in the final of an ICC ODI tournament in terms of runs.
The top eight teams in the ICC ODI Championship rankings as on 30 September 2015 qualified for the tournament, and were divided into two groups of four. Bangladesh returned to the ICC Champions Trophy for the first time since 2006 while the West Indies failed to qualify for the first time.
Bangladesh finished second behind hosts England in Group A with a win  over New Zealand by five wickets, loss to England by eight wickets and drawn with Australia in the rain interrupted match. In the match with New Zealand, Bangladesh touched the target scoring 268 for the loss of five wickets in 47. 3 overs.  Shakib Al Hasan's 114 runs  contributed to victory to the delight of the nation. In the semifinals, eventual Champions Pakistan trounced England by eight wickets, while India shattered Bangladesh by nine wickets. In the final, Pakistan whipped India by 180 runs.
In the lone Test match in Hyderabad, hosts India beat visiting Bangladesh by 208 runs.Bangladesh played nine Test matches, won two and lost seven; 14 One-day Internationals, won four, lost seven, no result three; and seven T20 matches, won just one and lost six. The latest bilateral series against South Africa was a very miserable series.
But in soccer, Bangladesh won the 2017 South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U-15 Women's Championship by beating neighboring India with 1-0 goal in Dhaka. The eventual winners thrashed India 3-0 at the group stage.  Bangladesg became runners-up in the SAFF U-18 Championship held in Bhutan; qualified for the final round of the AFC U-16, Women's Division' Championship from Thailand.In the SAFF U-18 Championship held in Bhutan, Bangladesh beat India 4-3 after conceding three goals in a row. It was surely amazing victory.
The result reminds us of a 1966 World Cup Football match between Portugal and North Korea in which the Asian team took 3-0 lead within first 15 minutes, and then the European side struck back depending on Eusobio's magic skills.
He alone scored four goals and Portugal finally won 5-3. Not only that, Jafar Iqbal earned golden boot award by netting five goals.Bangladesh won one gold and one silver medals in shooting and one bronze in wrestling in the Islamic Solidarity Games held in Baku, Azerbaijan in May. Abdullah Hel Baki and Syeda Atkiya Hasan bagged a gold medal in 10 metres air rifle event while Ra bi Hasan captured a silver medal in the individual air rifle. Wrestler Shirin Sultana got bronze in 69 kg weight category.
Bangladesh before success in the Islamic Solidarity Games, earned gold medals in the Commonwealth Games twice. This is the event, Bangladesh could shine, but absence of effective supports, shooters like Asif, Sabrina, Atiq and Abdus Sattar could not penetrate into the Asian Games shooting event.
Bangladesh Hockey Federation hosted the Asian Cup Hockey the title whereof being captured by India, who defeated Malaysia 2-1 in the final. But the hosts cut a very sorry figure, showing no sign of brightness. In other disciplines like volleyball, basketball, table tennis, gymnastics, swimming, athletics and badminton, Bangladesh had no success to mention.
World Cup Football, the greatest show on earth
 World Cup Football (WCF) 2018 fixture has been prepared in such a way that co-favourites Brazil and Germany will not meet each other before final if they finish top of their respective groups in the round robin league. But if any of them become champions and the other runners-up, they will have to clash in the round of 16, meaning early elimination of either Olympic Champions Brazil or defending Champions Germany.
On the other hand, if Argentina and Germany secure top positions in their respective groups, they will play against each other in semifinals. If Russia, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, England and Columbia become group champions and pass the round of 16, the quarterfinals line-up will be (1) Russia versus France, (2) Spain versus Argentina, (3) Brazil versus England, and  (4) Germany versus Columbia. The semifinal line-up will be winners of match No. 1 versus winners of match No. 3; and winners of match No.2 and winners of match No. 4.
It will be easy for us if we divide the eight group champions and eight group runners-up in two imaginary zones. One zone will comprise champions of groups A, C, E, G, and runners-up of B, D, F, H. The second zone will have champions of B, D, F, H and runners-up of A, C, E, G. One team from each zone will fly into the final.
A friend of mine predicted that Russia and Uruguay from Group A, Spain and Portugal from Group B, France and Denmark/Peru from Group C, Argentina and Iceland/Croatia from Group D, Brazil and Serbia from Group E, Germany and Sweden from Group F, England and Belgium from Group G, and Colombia and Poland from Group H are likely to cruise into the round of 16.
However, results of a match depend much on the role of referees and assistant referees.  If they are neutral, spectators will watch many amazing results. Kaka scored a brilliant goal against Holland in 2010 World Cup, but it was disallowed.  Hungary's third goal against Germany was disallowed in 1954. Both Brazil and Hungary suffered for referee's mistakes.
The groups are:
Group A:  Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay: Group B: Iran, Morocco, Portugal and Spain; Group C; Australia, Denmark, France, Peru; Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria; Group E: Brazil, Costa Rica, Serbia, Switzerland; Group F: Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Sweden; Group G: Belgium, England, Panama, Tunisia; and Group H; Colombia, Japan, Poland, Senegal.  
The opening match will be played between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia on June 14 in Moscow at 10 pm BST. Argentina will play their first match against Iceland on June 16 in Moscow, Brazil on June 18 against Switzerland  in Rostov at 1 am and Germany the same day against Mexico at 10 pm BST. And England against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 19 at 1 am.
In total 62 matches will be played, the final on July 15 in Moscow at 10 pm.
In the round of 16, Group A champions V Group B runners-up, Group B champions v group A runners-up; Group C champions V Group D runners-up, Group D champions V Group C runners-up; Group E champions V Group F runners-up, Group F champions V Group E runners-up; and Group G champions V Group H runners-up, Group H champions V Group G runners-up.
It should be remembered that Brazil  qualified to play in every World Cup final round, reached final seven times, champions five times and runners-up twice, won the title in every continent so far held. No other nation achieved such record. Germany are one short of Brazil, reached final eight times, champions four times, runners-up four times, won outside Europe one time only.

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