Maldives narrowly lost to neighboring Bangladesh, 3-2 on aggregate, in the First Round of the Asian zone’s FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifying. This heart-wrenching defeat marked the end of Maldives’ aspirations for the FIFA World Cup 2026.
The decisive second leg unfolded at King’s Arena, Dhaka, Bangladesh, following an initial 2-2 draw in the first leg held at Galolhu Stadium, Male’, Maldives, just a week ago.
Maldives entered the game with determination, launching several attacks on Bangladesh’s territory in the early stages. However, a swift counterattack by the Bangladeshi squad saw Rakin Hussain netting a crucial goal in the 11th minute of play. With the odds stacked against them, Maldives managed to level the score before halftime, with Ibrahim Aisam finding the back of the net.
As the second half commenced, the game was still hanging in the balance. Nevertheless, Bangladesh once again seized the initiative, with Mohamed Faisal Ahmed Fahim scoring a vital goal to edge ahead.
Ultimately, this defeat shattered Maldives’ dreams of progressing to the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifying Group Stage, leaving Bangladesh to claim the coveted spot. Bangladesh will now face formidable opponents, including Australia, Palestine, and Lebanon, as they vie for a place in the FIFA World Cup 2026.