Bangladesh football team head coach Andrew Ord has cut down the incomplete preliminary squad to 23 players ahead of the two-week long camp in Qatar, scheduled to begin Wednesday. The British-born Australian coach reminded the players to prove their credential before he finalises the national squad for the Laos friendly in late March, as well as for the Asian Games in August/September this year.
The national side by all means are in transitional stage. The team are without any game for nearly a year and half, and even the majority of the senior players from the previous squad are not in the current squad, which is dominated by young players, with nine of them having no experience of playing for the senior side before. With Ord yet to make his national team debut and the new goalkeeping coach joining the side, the troop, altogether, is still too young to be called mature for international games.
With only a month left to pick the best players for the much-awaited international friendly against Laos on March 27, Ord started the national camp on February 13 without the full squad. He informed that the fitness of the players was in focus during the recent camp at BKSP. And after getting all the Abahani players, the final phase of preparation will begin for the Laos friendly.
The only national players who are yet to join the camp are some of the in-form and experienced players of AFC Cup-bound Abahani. A practice match was arranged Monday where Abahani won 4-0 with “no tactical instruction for 45 minutes” and according to Ord, what was more important in the warm-up was to have better insight of the national players, including the ones currently training with the Sky Blues.
Ord said, “Abahani are a side which played together for a long time and won the league last two seasons with four or five changes. They are already a team, we are not a team, we are just a bunch of young players with a few older players who are trying to get experience. At the moment, the group is a long-term training group with an eye on the future and on Indonesia (Asian Games).”
When queried about the current physical condition of the footballers, Ord informed that many players are currently injured like Zahid Hossain, Yeasin Khan, Jewel Rana and Matin Mia. The quartet failed to make it to the Qatar tour. Hemanta Vincent Biswas meanwhile, was dropped at the last moment Tuesday due to sickness.
The camp in Qatar will be an opportunity for the players, especially the younger ones, to secure their place in the national team. Ord added, “The young players who do well will earn the right to be a national team player, also youth national team player. When the Abahani players come in, there will be lots of experienced players and there will not be many young players, so experienced players will be coming, some players will depart. The best players will be picked up to go to Thailand.”
Meanwhile, as part of the BFF’s long-term camp ahead of September’s Saff Championship, the national team are all set to fly to Qatar Wednesday at 3pm before returning home on March 14. The team will then have a short camp in Thailand, starting from March 19, where they will play two practice matches before finally flying off to Laos on March 25.
Squad for Qatar camp
Ashraful Islam Rana, Anisur Rahman, Faisal Mahmood, Mamunul Islam, Jamal Bhuiyan, Masuk Mia Zoni, Mohammad Abdullah, Biplu Ahmed, Topu Barman, Bishwanath Ghosh, Mohammad Ibrahim, Jafar Iqbal, Rahmat Mia, Mahbubur Rahman, Saddam Hossain, Mohammad Shadhin, Rahim Uddin, Ali Hossain, Uttam Kumar Banik, Towhidul Alam Sabuj, Monjurur Rahman, Nurul Naim Faisal, Mahfuz Hasan and Sushanto Tripura