‘Dark forces were at work’
Oscar Bruzon believes the controversial decision to send off goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico was the turning point of the game before another dubious decision to award Nepal penalty killed off Bangladesh's dream of playing the final of the SAFF Championship at the National Football Stadium in Male yesterday.
Nepal came from a goal behind to level the margin in the 88th minute broke Bangladesh supporters' hearts as the Himalayan nation went on to book the seat of the SAFF Championship final for the first time in the 28-year history of the regional football extravaganza.
"You are talking about one controversial decision of the penalty and I think the penalty was not the only turning point, rather the sending-off of Zico was the [major] turning point of the game.
"But Zico didn't handle the ball intentionally; rather, the ball first hit his legs and then it came up to his hands. I think that was the first controversial decision and in the last moment of the game, the referee awarded a silly and controversial penalty to Nepal," said a disappointed Bruzon at the post-match conference.
"Bangladesh is not the best but are one of the best teams in the tournament. We deserved to be in the final," said the 44-year-old coach.
"Since we played against India, the dark forces were at work. We [Bashundhara Kings] could not progress to the AFC Cup and it happened today again.
"From my side, it's all right from the professional ground but it wasn't fair, what happened on the pitch today, and the dressing room has been in complete chaos and we understand why," said a frustrated Bruzon.
About the penalty in the dying moments, Bruzon said: "It was a very critical action of the game where the referee was 30 meters away [from the box] but he called for the kick [penalty].
"But it was a cheating move from the Nepalese player, who had a false dive in the area and of course the referee wasn't in doubt because they don't want Bangladesh to be in the final."
The successful coach in Bangladesh domestic competition informed that their intention was to play attacking football till the last minute despite taking the lead, so that they can kill off the game by scoring the second goal.
"The message to the boys during the interval was to keep playing attacking football and create chances. I want to say the performance of the boys was really excellent," said the Spaniard.
Wiping his tears, winger Rakib said: "We worked hard for the tournament and everyone was crying in the dressing room. We wouldn't regret it [result] if the call of the referee was fair but it was not and that's why we can't accept it."
Nepal coach Almutairi Abdullah congratulated Bangladesh for giving a tough fight and echoed the same sentiment of Bruzon that the marching order of Zico was the turning point of the game.
Abdullah, however, did not present a clear stance on the penalty decision.
"If I say yes or no, then I'll be a liar. I think it was a penalty but I am not sure," said the Nepal coach.