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Yeasins, two beacons for Bangladesh football

  • Published at 08:35 pm October 20th, 2019
Yeasins
Yeasin Khan and Yeasin Arafat Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

Under Day’s system, defenders play the pivotal roles and interestingly, Bangladesh’s fort is guarded by two players who share the same first name – Yeasin

Bangladesh national team’s pragmatic football under British coach Jamie Day has earned a lot of plaudits recently and the defenders seem to be the backbone of the team that has shown some impressive performances in recent times. 

Under Day’s system, defenders play the pivotal roles and interestingly, Bangladesh’s fort is guarded by two players who share the same first name – Yeasin. 

For Day, initially, that created a lot of confusion and in order to efface the perplexity, he decided to address the younger of the two as Arafat – by his second name, while calling the other one -Yeasin Khan - as Yeasin. 

Day may have found a way to avoid the miscommunication but for journalists, it is still bewildering at times, especially considering the fact that these two players have hit the headlines recently for different reasons. 

Khan scored a goal after three years along with his first-ever brace during an international friendly against Bhutan earlier this month and, played brilliantly in the crucial World Cup qualifier tie against India in a jam-packed Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata last week with a bandage covered around his forehead.

Arafat made the headline when it was revealed that Saif Sporting Club put a 2,00,000 US$ buy-out clause in the contract of 18-year old left-back and few days later, he was called up for the national camp for the first time. He made it to the headlines again, after receiving his second yellow card during the final of Saff U-18 Championship for pulling off his jersey over his head unnecessarily.

The latest incident came while playing on loan for Chattogram Abahani, Arafat scored a beautiful goal against Maldives champions TC Sports with a long-range effort in the inaugural game of Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup 2019, where Khan is yet to make his debut for Bangladesh Premier League champions Bashundhara Kings.

Khan: Playing for national team tougher than ever

Nawabpur Club in the Pioneer League was Yeasin Khan’s first club in 2007 following which, he was called up for the national U-13 team the same year. While mentioning his second club, Victoria Sporting Club, in the 1st division league, the defender failed to hold a happy face due to the club’s recent casino scandal. In 2010, he made his Bangladesh Premier League debut with Mohammedan Sporting Club which was also involved in the illegal casino business.

Yeasin was one of the key players of Sheikh Russel KC squad that won the historic treble in 2012-13 season and within a year, he made his senior national team debut during a friendly against India and cemented his place for the next two years before a six-month suspension followed by a year-long ACL injury during his time at Sheikh Jamal DC which ruled him out of the national team for more than one and half years. It was a difficult time for Khan but he trained alone to get his fitness back and reunited with Sheikh Russel last season and, finally has hit a rich vein of form.

Khan returned to the national team during the Bangabandhu Gold Cup last year. The long-term injury of Topu Barman forced him to partner with some young faces at center-back including Riyadul Hasan Rafi and Tutul Hossain Badshah.

“It’s now very tough to get a chance in the national team because whoever is getting a chance, is performing well. Rafi played well in the last few matches. Now if I get injured, the one who will replace me may perform well to impress the coach.”

After being hit by the elbow of Ashique Kuruniyan early in the game against India, Yeasin had to play the rest of the game with a bandage on his forehead and fought bravely till the very end. “I was senseless for around five minutes but after a few headers, I started feeling better. But the coach was giving me the confidence saying, ‘you can do it.’”

Khan is hopeful about the future. “We are the only few senior players in the national team. The young players will become mature before the next Saff. I think if the team goes forward with the same rhythm, we will get a good result in Saff next year.”

Arafat eager to prove his worth

Yeasin Arafat started his career with Arambagh Football Academy in the Pioneer League in 2015 and made his youth team debut with the national U-12 team during the Mokh Cup in Malaysia in 2013. Since then, he has played for the U-14, U-15, U-16, U-18 and U-23 team in different competitions before being called up to the senior side for the first time for the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Afghanistan last month. While playing for Kadamtola Sangsad, Saif Sporting Club signed him last season and featured the young full-back in most of their league matches.

Arafat was among the 23-man squad for Afghanistan, Qatar and India in the WC qualifiers and made his first international appearance as a substitute during the friendly against Bhutan this month. Arafat said it was a big experience for him as he closely observed the game of the left-backs of the opponents’ team.

“I learned a lot of things despite not playing during the WC Qualifiers. All of them are big teams and I watched those who played in my position. I think Qatar has the best left-back for his crosses, switch play, long-range shooting and defending. The Indian left-back’s passing build-up and overlapping was also good.”

The youngest member in the national team also believed that Bangladesh had the chance of winning or drawing in all of the three matches. He admitted that Yeasin Khan’s performance inspired him and also mentioned Real Madrid left-back Marcello as his role model. “I always follow Marcello that is why I want to play like him, overlapping fast through the wing.”

“Now, it’s more difficult to get chance in starting eleven because whoever is getting a chance is utilizing it. I’m enjoying this healthy competition. It’s a challenge and I want to take it whenever I get the opportunity.”

Arafat concluded, “There are many young players in our team, some are senior too. If this continues and the combination gets better, then I believe we have the chance to break the jinx at the next Saff Championship.”