The Bangladesh Football Federation has started its long-term plan to pick the best players for the future national team by revealing the scheme of its upcoming continuous activities till September's Saff Championship in Dhaka as the residential camp with 24 players among the 35-man preliminary squad got underway at BKSP Tuesday.
The long-term plan includes a 14-day training camp in Qatar, a six-day camp and a couple of warm-up matches in Thailand. Bangladesh would then face Laos in a Fifa friendly in late March to end their 17-month international match drought starting from October, 2016.
The football federation also introduced Portuguese coach Mario Lemos as the new fitness and strengthening coach for the national team. Lemos worked for different clubs in Portugal, USA, Thailand and the latest being in South Korea, for the last three years.
The national team management committee chairman Kazi Nabil Ahmed revealed the plan during a press conference at BFF House Tuesday afternoon. "The camp will continue for two weeks at BKSP. We will be flying to Qatar on February 28 where the camp will continue, and from there, we return home on March 14," Nabil said before adding, "The team will fly for Thailand on March 19. Along with the camp there, the team will also play two practice matches against two local clubs on March 21 and 23. We will move to Laos on March 25 for the Fifa friendly on March 27. We will have detailed and continuous plan every month till September."
Meanwhile, 24 players reported to the camp on the opening day but forward Jewel Rana and defender Yeasin Khan failed to join the camp due to injury. The remaining nine players from Independence Cup finalists Chittagong Abahani Limited and Arambagh Krira Sangha will join the camp next Wednesday.
Andrew Ord will make his international debut as national head coach against Laos and the British-born Australian coach hailed the BFF's effort to keep the team in continuous activities in the upcoming months, saying, "It's time for action."
Due to Abahani Limited's AFC Cup fixtures during the first half of next month, the players from the Bangladesh Premier League champion will not be in the national camp until the Qatar tour. Ord talked about his plan regarding the national players at Abahani. "Let Abahani concentrate on the AFC Cup. I can keep one group in training while Abahani can keep another group in training and playing. And when the time comes, like when we come back from Qatar, then it's the time to pick the best 23 and move it forward for the rest of the year," said Ord.
Ord also reminded the unrealistic expectation of transforming the team from bad to good in only one game against Laos. He said, "You have to be realistic, you need to understand where we are but we have got to improve, we have to be built for 95 minutes, not embarrassing the nation by having unfit players. We have got to crop out the stupid mistakes. My responsibility is to make sure the tactics are right, to pick the right players and put them in the right position properly. The players also need to do their job."
The BFF president Kazi Salahuddin, who was also present on the occasion, said "This is the best plan we can provide to the national players, like the good footballing nations do. I can ensure all the facilities but what I can't do is to put pressure on coach and players."