Nepal and Bangladesh are set to lock horns in Dhaka on November 13 and 17 which would be the first matchdays in action after almost seven months for both the teams and players
Bangladesh Football Federation has taken firm measurement to host the two friendlies safely during November’s Fifa window by conducting multiple Covid-19 tests on players, coaches and staffs of both teams.
Visiting Nepal and Bangladesh are set to lock horns in Dhaka on November 13 and 17 which would be the first match days in action after almost seven months for both the teams and players.
These are also going to be the first international matches in south Asia during the pandemic.
The residential camp of 36-man Bangladesh team begins at the capital’s Pan Pacific Sonargaon Friday.
All the members of the team have been asked to do their Covid-19 tests before reporting and only those with Covid-19 negative test results will be allowed to join the camp, and there will be two more tests with one week of interval between them.
A zoom press conference took place Wednesday afternoon where national team management committee chairman Kazi Nabil Ahmed revealed the details of the plan.
He said similar process will be followed for the Nepal team.
“The players and staffs have been asked to do their Covid-19 tests before joining the camp. There will be further tests for them a week after they join the camp and another test on November 9th or 10th before the matches,” Nabil told the media.
“Nepal players and staffs also have to do tests 72 hours before their flight to Bangladesh. Once they test positive they can’t come. We will again test them at the same time with Bangladesh team,” he added.
Nabil admitted that the task is not easy to organize games during the pandemic.
The BFF will sit in a inter-ministerial meeting Sunday to discuss the matter.
“It’s very challenging. Whatever we do we discuss with the Youth and Sports Ministry. Our target is to minimize the danger, keep the players safe and host the games properly,” said Nabil.
The games will be held at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka.
When asked whether the friendlies will be held behind closed doors, Nabil replied, “It will be decided after discussing with the government and we will implement whatever the outcomes are. But it is unusual to play games at empty stadium. We will try to allow a few spectators.”
Head coach Jamie Day and assistant coach Stuart Watkiss are scheduled to arrive next Thursday along with the goalkeeping coach and fitness trainer from the UK.
They have been asked to go through Covid-19 tests three days before the flight.
“After they (coaches) arrive there will be further tests a few days later. They will be away from the team for the first few days but they can be in the field to observe how the players are doing,” said Nabil.
The same group of players were called up for the national practice camp on August 5 ahead of the World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifiers.
Two Covid-19 checkups were done by the BFF within a week and more than dozen players tested positive.
The camp however, was later called up soon after the postponement of the qualifiers.
The rescheduled fixtures of Bangladesh’s last four joint qualifying games have not come yet but Nabil said the friendlies are the beginning of the preparation of those tough encounters.
“We were thinking to get football back and we need to play friendlies ahead of the joint qualifiers. We asked a few of our neighbors including Nepal and Sri Lanka who are interested. Only Nepal confirmed it,” said Nabil.
“Winning is not the only criteria here but to start football activities. We hope it will be the beginning of our national team activities and we can follow up on more programs later on,” added the BFF vice-president, informing that they want to leave example to other sports as to how to organize events during the pandemic.
In the absence of Day during the opening week, local assistant coaches Masud Parvez Kaiser, Syed Golam Jilani and Mostofa Anwar Parvez will guide the team.
Danish-born Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuiyan and other expatriate Tarek Qazi are expected to arrive next Thursday and Wednesday respectively.
BNS and Kamalapur Stadium have been set as practice venues for Bangladesh, and Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Limited field and Kamalapur Stadium for Nepal.