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Bangladesh football in 2016: The good, the bad and the ugly

  • Published at 11:10 pm December 29th, 2016
  • Last updated at 07:32 pm January 3rd, 2017
Bangladesh football in 2016: The good, the bad and the ugly
However, the outstanding achievement of the national under-16 women's team ensured Bangladesh football had something be proud of in the year 2016. In 2016, Bangladesh played the most number of international matches in their recent history and at the end of the year, it became quite clear that the footballers failed awfully to utilise their chances in the final third. As a result, there was a distinct lack of goals as Bangladesh not only lost seven out of eight matches in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers but also failed to make it into the AFC Cup qualifiers after conceding their first ever defeat against minnows Bhutan. The national men's team's first international assignment this year was in January in the Bangabandhu Gold Cup. They won their first match against Sri Lanka in Jessore and it turned out to be their only victory in the whole year. They failed to reach the final, losing against an amateur Bahrain U-23 side in the last four. The Bangladesh U-23 team followed the senior side almost to a tee, finishing third in the South Asian Games in India where they, starting as holders, eventually delivered a performance that was clearly not their best effort. Bangladesh's last group stage match of the 2018 Russia World Cup qualifiers was held in March where they fell to one of their most humbling defeats (8-0) at the hands of Jordan. They still had chances to qualify for the Asian Football Confederation Cup 2019 qualifiers. The first obstacle was a tough one against Tajikistan, and they duly lost 6-0 on aggregate in June. [caption id="attachment_42554" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Losing to Bhutan for the first time in history was not the biggest concern but what was difficult to accept was their soulless performance DHAKA TRIBUNE[/caption] Their last opponent were Bhutan against whom Bangladesh have the finest record among all the other teams, winning four and drawing two. Bhutan showed they are not the same side they used to be against Bangladesh during the lacklustre 1-1 draw in the first leg. In the second leg too, Bangladesh showed no signs of improvement, putting up a horrible defensive display to concede a 3-1 defeat away to Bhutan in October. Losing to Bhutan for the first time in history was not the biggest concern but what was difficult to accept was their soulless performance, despite having an experienced and qualified coach in the shape of Belgian Tom Saintfiet. Bangladesh have no major Fifa/Afc events at least for the next two years, right until the beginning of the qualifying round of the 2022 World Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup so there is a lot of time for reflection. The federation's lack of attention towards the players’ development and non-professional behaviour of the clubs have ensured that the new generation of footballers would be vulnerable technically, physically and psychologically in a football field. The crisis is nothing new and after eight long years, the Bangladesh Football Federation seemed to have realised its lackings towards improving the standard of the game in the country. In the second week of December, the BFF outlined a long-term plan with a four-year calendar filled with more domestic competitions and youth activities, placing the utmost importance on the development of youth football in the country, set to be effective from the first month of 2017. There has been an instability regarding the head coach's position in the national men's team throughout the year. The coach was changed as many as four times and currently, there has been no head coach in the senior men's side in more than two months. The BFF election was held in April where Kazi Salahuddin was elected president for the third consecutive time. The country's top-flight Bangladesh Premier League was held across five different venues of the country for the first time in history but still, it eventually failed to attract full-house crowds. This year marked Dhaka Abahani Limited's return to dominance in domestic football. They were the most consistent performer in 2016, reaching the Independence Cup final, winning the Federation Cup and clinching their fifth professional league title at the end of December after a drought of three seasons. The year also marked the rise of rising powerhouse Chittagong Abahani and the fall of big-budget sides like Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club and Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra. This year, Chittagong Mohammedan returned to second-tier football, along with Kawran Bazar and newly-formed Saif Sporting Club. [caption id="attachment_42559" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Bangladesh under-16 women's football team celebrate after finishing top in their qualifying group in the Asian Football Confederation's U-16 Women's Championship at Bangabandhu National Stadium in September this year DHAKA TRIBUNE[/caption] Bangladesh football's brightest month in 2016 was perhaps September, thanks to the spectacular displays by Krishna Rani Sarkar and Co. Followed by their brilliant achievement in the AFC U-14 Girls' Regional Championship in the last two years, the clinical Bangladesh U-16 girls qualified for the final round of the AFC U-16 Women's Championship, winning all five matches in a row, that too in some style. They scored 26 goals against favourites Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Singapore, Chinese Taipei and the United Arab Emirates. They will play Asia's top teams in the form of Australia, Korea and Japan in the final round in Thailand next year.
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