Defending champions Bangladesh began their Fourth South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship campaign in style when they handed an emphatic 3-0 defeat to Bhutan in the Group-B match at People's Sport Complex in Karachi Thursday.
Striker Ariful Kabir Farhad struck twice and young striker Zahid Hossain Emely netted another for the winners, reports BDNEWS.
The shaven-headed striker scored a goal in each half to take his personal SAFF tally against Bhutan to four, while a sublime effort from Jahid Hassan Emeli ensured that the match finished with an identical score line to the first SAFF meeting in Dhaka almost three years ago.
Bhutan started the day's game nervously and within the first three minutes Bangladesh had seen a free-kick fizz just wide of Jigme Singye's left hand post and a header cleared off the line after a corner kick from set-piece specialist Mohammed Arman had created panic in the defence.
The defending champions dominated the half but with their attacking forays bringing little return, Bhutan grew in confidence as it quickly became clear that Bangladesh would not be enjoying a similar goal festival that the Maldives - the 2003 runners-up - celebrated during their 9-1 demolition of Afghanistan.
In fact, it was looking increasingly likely that the first half would finish goalless as Bangladesh struggled to convert their dominance into clear chances.
But with three minutes left to play before the break, Ariful got his shaven head onto the end of a free-kick, glancing it into the Bhutan net with Ugyen Dorji making a last ditch attempt at stopping the ball cross the line.
A minute later Bangladesh had Aminul Hoque to thank for ensuring they went into the break with the lead, after the keeper - a virtual spectator for most of the half - threw himself across the goalmouth to prevent Wangay Dorji's superbly struck free-kick from swerving into the net at the right hand post.
Bangladesh doubled their lead 13 minutes after the interval with Ariful Kabir getting his second of the night, when Singye made a mess of what was either a sublime piece of skill, attempting to beat the keeper with an exquisite chip, or a stroke of luck, with an inaccurate cross fortunately hitting the target.