When the flight from Kathmandu landed in Dhaka, Bangladesh football team captain Sabina Khatun, who was on board, had no idea what was waiting for her and her team outside the airport.
Sabina knew her team had the capabilities to lift the title and win the crown of football excellence in South Asia. Still, she had no idea what the capital city had planned for her.
When they completed immigration process and came out to the media corner, Sabina came to know there were hundreds of media personnel waiting with cameras to snap their photos, and there were thousands of fans waiting with flowers to greet them for their victorious journey that ended with the ultimate prize.
Along with fans, band parties were also waiting for them with the cadence of patriotic songs. They were ready with flutes, drums and other musical instruments on the trucks decorated with photos of Sabina and her team.
A press conference was scheduled at the airport. But that failed to materialise due to the overcrowded presence of media personnel. The airport authority failed to manage the crowd. There were hundreds of police personnel to handle the situation, but they failed. There were hundreds of Ansar members too. They too failed to contain the passionate fans.
Being unable to host the press conference there, the authority was forced to call it off. It took them around an hour to disperse the crowd and restore order.
Sabina and her teammates were speechless, watching the situation.
This wasn't the first time when Bangladesh women's team returned to Dhaka after playing a football event abroad. But today's return was markedly different. Tigresses returned home with the biggest trophy they won so far.
A short and bursting at the seams press briefing eventually took place at Dhaka airport where Sabina said they are grateful to the people of Bangladesh for unflinching supporting.
After another half an hour, Sabina and her team boarded the open-deck bus - and became the first Bangladeshi team to be received this way in recent memory.
Police had to struggle to make way for Sabina and her team walking to the open-deck bus, pushing hundreds of media personnel and thousands of fans away.
When the dream of an open-deck champion's bus came true for Sabina, Sanjida, Krishna and fellow tigresses, they threw the garlands they were greeted with at the cheering crowd. They looked happy and bewildered at the same time. They likely dreamt of a grand reception, but perhaps this was beyond their expectations.
The open-deck bus carried them to the headquarters of Bangladesh Football Federation. Along the way, they were greeted by thousands of supporters.
Fingers crossed, Sabina and her team will win many more trophies in future. But this day will remain unparalleled in their and Bangladeshi football fans' memory.
They are not only the first Bangladeshi women's team to win the SAFF title, but they are also the first Bangladeshi team to get such glorious reception!
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