Palestine arrived in the capital without most of their key players, but the highest-ranked side (106) among the six participants have still been termed as the tournament favorite by Bangladesh head coach Jamie Day, who was forced to leave injured striker Nabib Newaj Jibon out of the squad amid ever-present finishing problem
A confident Bangladesh will kick off the sixth edition of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup against reigning champion and top-ranked Palestine at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Wednesday at 5pm.
Bangladesh Television and RTV will telecast the game live.
Palestine arrived in the capital without most of their key players, but the highest-ranked side (106) among the six participants have still been termed as the tournament favorite by Bangladesh head coach Jamie Day, who was forced to leave injured striker Nabib Newaj Jibon out of the squad amid ever-present finishing problem.
The two sides faced each other during the semi-final of the previous edition in Cox’s Bazar in 2018 as the misfiring home side lost 2-0 after conceding an injury-time goal against full-strength Palestine.
The performance of the men in red green has been inconsistent in recent times as they performed admirably in the World Cup qualifiers before going down miserably in the 13th edition of the South Asian Games in Nepal last month.
Captain Jamal Bhuiyan urged his teammates to prove that the SAG failure was a fluke during the special edition of the BGC, which is the first sports event after the countdown of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman began.
The head coach of Palestine is not here as the assistant coach Makram Daboub is guiding the traveling squad that has six senior players from the World Cup qualifying squad, seven from Olympic team and 10 new faces.
They enjoyed their lone training session at Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Limited ground Tuesday afternoon.
Day admitted that the reserve squad of Palestine will increase their chances but his boys too have to perform well.
“Palestine will be favorite because they still have some technically good players despite not bringing their best team. But if we repeat the performance like we did against India and Qatar, it will make things difficult for Palestine,” said Day to the media Tuesday.
“It’s a tough tournament but the players are confident. We know it’s a bit of a pressure to do well because of what the Cup stands for. It will be a big challenge and experience. We want to kick off the year on positive note and build on that,” he added during the pre-match press conference.
Abahani duo, striker Jibon and center-back Tutul Hossain Badshah have been ruled out due to illness, despite being included in the initial squad, and were replaced by Foysal Ahmed Fahim and Monjurul Rahman respectively.
The key concern for Day is however, in front of goal and with Jibon’s absence it will be interesting to see how the forward line shapes up against the physically stronger opponent with Saad Uddin, Matin Mia and Mahbubur Rahman Sufil among the contenders for starting spot.
Bangladesh have never won the BGC since its introduction in 1996, nor did they clinch any major silverware since the South Asian Football Federation Championship in 2003.
The Bengal Tigers will conclude their Group A campaign against Sri Lanka Sunday at the same venue.
Jamal Bhuiyan, Bangladesh captain
The preparation and practice has been good so far. Those who played the South Asian Games know they didn’t perform well so this is a good chance to recover that and to show everyone that SA Games was a mistake and we can do better.
Makram Daboub, Palestine coach
We have six players from the World Cup qualifying squad, seven from Olympic team and 10 are local players. The other regular players couldn’t come because it is not usual Fifa window. But we are confident with the players we have and came here to win the Cup again.