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Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh look to prolong momentum against holders

Update : 12 Jan 2016, 07:09 PM

The Bengal Tigers will be keen to confirm their semifinal berth with a win in their second Group A game in the Bangabandhu Gold Cup against defending champions Malaysia in Dhaka today.

The game at the Bangabandhu National Stadium will be the second on the day after Nepal open the Dhaka phase of the tournament against Sri Lanka in the afternoon.

The Malaysians aren’t of the same strength compared to their previous visit. The undefeated winners are being represented by Malaysia Super League’s Felda United side that includes only two former national players.

Following the 4-2 victory over Sri Lanka, Bangladesh are in a comfortable place compared to their opponents who drew against Nepal in Jessore. However, Maruful Haque’s side will miss the services of Sohel Rana, who was granted leave for his father’s open heart surgery, as Hemanta Vincent Biswas is most likely to replace the Sheikh Jamal DC attacking midfielder.

“Our initial target was to win the first game. The next target is to confirm the semifinal spot and we want to do it by winning (today’s) game. We noticed their performance in the last game. The players are giving their full attention and there’s no injury as well,” said a confident looking Bangladesh head coach Maruful.

The home side’s defence still wears a fragile look and Maruful admitted it’s not possible for him to change the scenario overnight. “I always work mostly on defence, for club and country. It is not possible to solve this issue overnight and we can only lessen the problem day by day. The defence needs support from the midfield and the forward line. If the players cannot track back, it creates pressure on the defence,” he added.

Bangladesh captain Mamunul Islam echoed his mentor and said, “We have to win the second game if we are to confirm and reach the semifinals. We are trying to do something good since the training camp of Saff Championship. Malaysia are the defending champions and we must perform well against them.”

On the other hand, Malaysia head coach Irfan Bakti, who had played for the Under-23 side that beat Abahani Limited in the final of a tournament in Dhaka in 1996, is well aware of the current Bangladesh force and going by his comments it was clear that he has already chalked out the threats.

“First and foremost, we must contain the attacks from Bangladesh, especially the striker number 18 (Shakhawat Hossain Rony). Most of the balls come from their captain (Mamunul). Very good player. We must stop him. It will be a tough game. I respect them. I saw them when they beat Sri Lanka 4-2. They are a very good team. We must do something to stop them,” said Bakti. 

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