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Bangladesh look to continue fairytale run against North Korea

  • Published at 10:58 pm August 23rd, 2018
Bangladesh footballers during training in Bekasi Thursday Dhaka Tribune/Shishir Hoque

It will be the first time the men in red and green would play in the knockout stage of the Asian Games football

Bangladesh Friday are going to face North Korea for the first time in this century. 

It will also be the first time the men in red and green would play in the knockout stage of the Asian Games football.

A confident Bangladesh Olympic team are all set to face the Asian giant in the Round of 16 at Wibawa Mukti Stadium in Bekasi, West Java at 6:30pm, Bangladesh standard time.

North Korea are regular quarter-finalists at the Asiad football events and after three appearances in a row in the last four, they became the runners-up losing against host South Korea following extra-time heartbreak in Incheon 2014. 

But they have been inconsistent so far in the group stage this time around.

Bangladesh have nothing to lose after what they have done so far in their three group fixtures.

The men in red and green shone brightly despite the defeat against favourite Uzbekistan, who beat Hong Kong 3-0 Thursday to make it to the last eight.

Jamal Bhuiyan and Co also dominated the second game in their draw against Thailand and finally outplayed Qatar in the latest encounter. 

All of these opponents are stronger and ranked more than 50 places above Bangladesh in the Fifa ranking. 

Perhaps that is why, there is no sign of fear of the opponent.

The team had their Thursday’s one-hour training session at the same ground of Brazilian Soccer School Field in Bekasi in the morning. 

The whole squad played against each other in the earlier session before head coach Jamie Day picked out the best XI for the latter part, practising set-pieces and testing the forwards’ finishing skills.

Like the players, assistant coach Stuart Watkiss and fitness coach Lindsay Davis showed confidence ahead of the big game but Day appeared cautious, shouting out on the players throughout the session and running here and there. 

Day was the last man to leave the pitch after the session ended.

“We need to play little bit better than we did against Qatar. We need to be more clinical in front of the goal. If we can do this and be a little bit more organised, then it gives us a chance for the game,” said the 38-year old English coach.

He added, “We worked on the shape again and we worked on some key areas when we got the ball. That's what we are looking for [Friday]. We need to score some goals and keep the clean sheet.”

It was evident from the words and attitude of the players that Bangladesh will be trying to unleash their best for Friday's game. 

The national team’s two-week long camp in South Korea before their arrival in Indonesia might give them some edge.

Bangladesh have not faced North Korea for many years. 

The two sides played each other during an international friendly in 1988 with North Korea winning 5-1 but their previous game two days earlier ended in a goalless draw.

North Korea’s inconsistency has been visible at the Asiad. 

They drew 1-1 against Myanmar and lost 3-0 against Iran in their opening group matches before beating Saudi Arabia 3-0 in the last match.

There are no injury concerns in the team and Bangladesh team manager Satyajit Das Rupu hinted that there would unlikely be any changes in the squad and that the team combination might remain unchanged.

Day, Rupu and Jamal all admitted that they will have fewer scoring chances against the North Koreans and they must make sure they utilise those if they are to extend their fairytale journey upto the quarter-final.