Dhaka Tribune interviewed Bangladesh football team skipper Jamal Bhuiyan over phone the night before they flew to Qatar to play the pending World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifying fixture
Jamal Bhuiyan, the Bangladesh football team captain, is bracing himself for a very busy next year.
He is going to be the first Bangladeshi to play in the I-League, for Kolkata Mohammedan, after which he would rejoin Saif Sporting Club for the remainder of the domestic fixtures in Bangladesh.
Dhaka Tribune interviewed the Bangladesh skipper over phone the night before they flew to Qatar to play the pending World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifying fixture.
The Denmark-born expatriate midfielder talked about the two-game Fifa friendly series against Nepal after a long Covid-19 pause, the upcoming Qatar clash, his new journey in India and future plans with regards to commentary.
There was no game and practice for almost eight months, and then Bangladesh played Nepal with short preparation. Summarize your experience…
When I joined the camp, the first three-four days were difficult for me because after a long time I did real practice. It’s different when you practice alone. It was really tough for me to come back because it was such a long time. But after may be six or seven days I felt like okay, normal. Still I feel that the fitness was not there like it was before. That’s why after practice I did some extra running in my own time. Now, after the first game against Nepal, then second match which I liked, I didn’t feel tired. So yeah, it’s good now.
Not many chances were created in the second game compared to the first. What are the reasons?
We didn’t want to force against Nepal team, they had only one chance, so I think the midfield and defence did well. I think in the second game, we could have been better. When we came to the final third, we could have done more but some of the players were tired from the first match. That’s my thought. We kept two clean sheets. That was also important because when you keep clean sheet it’s good because then you boost your chances of winning.
You started both matches alongside Manik Molla in midfield. How has the new partnership been so far?
Manik is a good player. I think we have a good partnership. Manik is new to the national team but he has done well. I don’t think I have problem with any of the midfielders. I think I can play with all of the midfielders. The coach has chosen Manik because he did well in practice.
In the last two years under Jamie Day, many chances and goals came from set-pieces but not much in the recent friendlies...
We didn’t practice on set pieces because coach’s focus was elsewhere. We haven’t practiced set-pieces. We only practiced set-piece defending. Other times, we practiced set-pieces a lot. Our focus was not on set-pieces, rather on match fitness. I think in Qatar, when we have lot of time we can practice set-pieces.
What is the lesson from the friendly series you want to take to the Qatar game next month?
When we come to the final third, we have to take our chances. We may have one, two or three-four chances, so we have to be more clinical because we know Qatar are a great team. They are Asian champion. So if we want something from the game we have to score from the chances we get.
What more needs to be done in the upcoming days?
There are lots of works to do for Qatar game. We have to improve more. We have to do better, run more, we have to fight more, and we have to score more. There are lots of things we need to improve before Qatar match. Now we have to forget about the Nepal match, we have to focus on Qatar. Qatar are much stronger than Nepal, so we have to prepare for that game.
You are going to start a new journey in the I-League. How did it came about?
They contacted me and then I spoke to the club [Kolkata Mohammedan]. I spoke again. The communication back and forth, finally, they offered me a good contract. I said, okay, I want to try, I want to go to India.
You were not happy with the payment verdict of the BPL local players regarding remuneration of the Covid-19 hit season. Did this have any role in the decision to join Kolkata Mohammedan?
Money doesn’t matter to me. I told my other club [Saif Sporting] that, “I don’t [want] rest of the money you owe me, forget about them.” Because of corona, everybody has to suffer. So I said, “Forget about the money.” Going to India is a great opportunity for me.
Did you set any target for your debut I-League season?
I want to become I-League champion. That’s my aspect, my goal. When the league ends I will return to Bangladesh. It’s a good experience for me to come to India, to try out how it is, and then come back and play rest of the games in Bangladesh in the second leg. I don’t think it’s going to be problem for me.
Bangladesh host India in the upcoming joint qualifying fixtures next year. How can you utilize the I-League experience?
I don’t think about the Indian national team players to be honest. But if I see them in the I-League and play against them, then of course, I’ll tell Jamie about what they are good at and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
How many years do you want to play, and do you want to try anywhere else outside Bangladesh and India?
I want to play five, six, seven years more. If I get the opportunity to go to some other countries, I have to look at the contract first. I cannot say anything about the future now.
You seem to have enjoyed commentary on La Liga games with Joe Morrison. Any plan to take commentary as profession after your playing career?
I love doing commentary. It’s a great experience for me. During the corona period, I spent one month in Spain. I have learned so much from Joe. Joe has taught me so much on many things – how to speak in front of the camera, how to use my body language. It was great experience. I learned so much about the TV, media world, how to do things. So for me, may be, yeah, after my career, may be, I’m going to do that but I don’t know yet.