Taking from memory Bangladesh’s previous defeats with almost similar margins against the same opposition, neither midfielder Mamunul Islam nor veteran defender Nasir Uddin Chowdhury hinted at any unrealistic hopes of beating Uzbekistan but pointed out some improvements from the past with optimistic tones
The official inauguration of the Asian Games 2018 is still four days away. The majority of the athletes for the 42 sporting disciplines are yet to arrive. Along with basketball and handball, only the fixtures of the 24-team football event have started so far and Bangladesh kicked-off its journey against the strongest side of the group but there are lots of positives to take from the defeat.
After more than a ten-hour flight from Dhaka to Jakarta and a 72-km road trip straight from the airport to Bangladesh’s team hotel in Sentul City in Bogor, only a few senior national team players were seen. They were the ones that are not in the U-23 squad but are staying and training with team ahead of the Saff Championship.
Taking from memory Bangladesh’s previous defeats with almost similar margins against the same opposition, neither midfielder Mamunul Islam nor veteran defender Nasir Uddin Chowdhury hinted at any unrealistic hopes of beating Uzbekistan but pointed out some improvements from the past with optimistic tones.
What Mamunul and Nasir talked about earlier was echoed with slightly different voices by head coach Jamie Day and captain Jamal Bhuiyan after the 3-0 defeat. During the second-half when Bangladesh conceded its second goal, BFF and BOA executive committee member Shawkat Ali Khan Jahangir said, while pointing at the pitch, “Look at their (Uzbekistan) fitness, height, and technical ability! They are far better than us.”
So what are the positive aspects Bangladesh can take from this game?
When Bangladesh lost to Uzbekistan with a similar margin in 2014, all of the goals were conceded in the opening half with Bangladesh rarely getting any space during the game. Jamal Bhuiyan was also in that team.
“They are one of the best teams in the competition and we knew we had to deal with it (potential defeat),” Jamal said in the post-match press conference. “(Four years ago) We didn’t have any ball possession. We didn’t create any chances. We didn’t have our shape. We have better shape now. We are more compact and more technical-minded now.”
After speaking about the two penalty appeals denied, Jamie Day said, “We played good football against a strong side. We created chances and we defended well. For me, these are positives. Besides, we did extremely well in terms of attitude and fitness. The technical ability has also improved. Overall I’m happy with the boys.”
Despite the three goals conceded, Uzbekistan head coach Khaydarov Ravshan praised the Bangladesh defense.
Bangladesh’s next two matches against Thailand and Qatar will be crucial for both Day and Jamal to prove their words, ahead of the more crucial campaign, the Saff Championship in Dhaka early next month.
Meanwhile, Thailand and Qatar played out a 1-1 draw in the other Group B encounter in the same venue. Qatar’s Shehata Hazem’s opener in the 6th minute was cancelled out by Chaided Supachai in the 92nd minute.