Since taking charge of the Bangladesh football team, Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet has regularly expressed his concern for the lack of a proper striker. The desperation reached new heights when, after Bangladesh's goalless 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers play-off against Bhutan, he asked journalists to inform him if they could find a striker anywhere, anytime.
On Tuesday, Bangladesh created a dozen chances as they dominated the game. Striker Shakhawat Hossain Rony alone missed a series of clear-cut opportunities throughout the game but he was not alone.
His teammates exhibited their misfiring talent till the final whistle. They had at least three close chances in the last five minutes. Some of them were like a tap-in or a push which would have been enough to find the back of the net.
It is no more a secret that Bangladesh football is in deep crisis in this regard. The scoring ability is evident when Bangladesh played against better opponents. The recent records from Fifa World Cup/Afc Asian Cup qualifiers and play-offs indicate that Bangladesh failed to score a single goal from nine matches in the last year, conceding 34 goals in total.
Bhutan were the weakest among the six opponents they faced in the last 12 months.
Domestic leagues are a major source for the national squad from where the best performers got the call-up. It's no different in Bangladesh but the domination of foreign players upfront in the last decade have made it very hard for the local strikers to get chance. Saintfiet discovered this on his first visit to Dhaka.
“We have a problem that we don’t have strikers. Most of the clubs have mediocre African strikers who play against clubs who have African centre-backs. So our defenders and strikers don’t develop. I believe these strikers have the quality but they don’t develop because of a lack of opportunity,” he said.
“Our defence was good. Our midfield was alone but they played well. The young players played with a lot of heart. The only thing that didn’t happen was a goal. We don’t have strikers. I don’t know what we have to do because we can’t score,” he added.
Bangladesh Football Federation president Kazi Salahuddin admitted that he is also aware of the situation.
“How much effort the local forward give for their own development? It's true that they get less chance due to the presence of foreign strikers but it can't change overnight. My question is that do the local strikers have that desire in their mind to prove them better than the foreigners?”
Saintfiet has a month to find a solution for goal-scoring before Bangladesh play the away game in Thimphu against Bhutan on October 10. He said he will take anyone, even the veteran Jahid Hasan Ameli, if he can prove his worth better than the current strikers.
Meanwhile, Saintfiet will be leaving for Belgium on Thursday and is scheduled to return on September 19. Goalkeeper coach Ryan Sandford and fitness trainer Ridoh Burden left on Wednesday.