A late-strike from forward Layth Kharoub helped Palestine edge past lowly East African nation Seychelles 1-0 in the first semifinal match of the Bangabandhu International Gold Cup Football Tournament at the Bangabandhu National Stadium (BNS) here on Wednesday.
Forward Kharoub luckily netted the match-winner with a right-footer shot inside the box from a pass by midfielder Mahmoud Abuwarda in the 78th minute.
Palestine will play final against the winner of the second semifinal between Bangladesh and Burundi on Saturday (Jan 25). The second semifinal will be held on Thursday at the same time and at the same venue.
Palestine emerged Group A champions with all-win record. The West Asian nation got off a flying start beating hosts Bangladesh by 2-0 goals in the first group match and continued their winning streak beating Sri Lanka also by 2-0 goals in the second group encounter.
On the other hand, Seychelles reached the semifinal as Group B runners-up riding on better goal difference as they conceded 1-3 goals defeat against Group B champions Burundi in the first group match and played a 2-2 draw against Mauritius in the second group match.
The 200-ranked Seychelles put strong pressure on the 106-ranked Palestine from the very beginning of the first half. They made several eye-catching attempts but all of those went in vain due to lack of finishers.
Seychelles defenders also successfully kept Palestine at bay for 77 minutes till a right-footed angular shot by forward Kharoub luckily found the net.
Seychelles midfielder Karl Hall got a yellow card.
Both the teams made one substitution each in the second half. Seychelles forward Dean Mothe came in the place of Karl Hall while Palestine midfielder Mohamed Darwish replaced another midfielder Mahmoud Abuwarda.
Palestine reached in the final of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup for the second time in a row. They emerged the unbeaten champions in the last edition of the meet in 2018 beating Tajikistan by 4-3 goals in the tie-breaker. On their way to final, the West Asian nation beat Tajikistan by 2-0 goals and Nepal by 1-0 goal in the group stage. They maintained their winning streak beating hosts Bangladesh by 2-0 goals in the semifinal.
After the day’s match, Palestine Head Coach Daboub Makram said, “Glad to be in the final for the second time. It was a tough game as Seychelles fought aggressively and put us in a tough test.”
Seychelles Head Coach Ralph Jean Louis said, “We were disciplined and much organised until conceded the unlucky goal. Our players gave their best in the game. I am pleased with their performances.”