The friendly would give head coach Jamie Day an upgraded insight of his squad members before integrating the Asiad members and the senior booters to prepare the final Saff Championship squad
Bangladesh football team are all set to experience an international match after five months when they host Sri Lanka in a friendly in West Bengal’s Nilphamari district today, ahead of their last-ditch preparation for next week’s Saff Championship in Dhaka.
This is the first time an international football match will be held in the Rangpur division.
The game kicks off at Sheikh Kamal Stadium at 4:30pm.
The venue has the capacity of hosting more than 20, 000 spectators.
Bangladesh Olympic (U-23) team’s memorable campaign at the Asian Games 2018, where their improved performance earned them qualification in the knock-out stage for the first ever time in history, garnered major interest among local football enthusiasts.
The tickets for the game were sold out within hours during each day’s sale.
The 11 booters who started in the Olympic team’s last three matches against North Korea, Qatar and Thailand in Indonesia were not included in the squad for the Sri Lanka friendly, which would see the absence of six players who played against Laos on March 27.
Midfielder Jamal Bhuiyan, goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana and defenders Topu Barman and Tutul Hossain Badshah are among those while the other regular playing members of the Asiad, striker Mahbubur Rahman Sufil and winger Biplo Ahmed, also made substitute appearances with the former scoring one in injury time.
Wingers Mohammad Abdullah and Jafar Iqbal, who also started against Laos with the latter scoring the other, featured in the second half against North Korea and are likely to get some match time against Sri Lanka.
The friendly would give head coach Jamie Day an upgraded insight of his squad members before integrating the Asiad members and the senior booters to prepare the final Saff Championship squad.
The Olympic team players displayed significant improvement in fitness during their four Asian Games matches.
Now it’s upto the seven senior players, who travelled with the U-23 players all the way from the South Korea tour to the Asiad, to show similar improvements ahead of the big competition.
These seven players, featuring two defenders, four midfielders and wingers, and one striker, are likely to get the priority in the playing XI while three other booters, goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel, winger Jewel Rana and striker Nabib Newaj Jiban also returned to the squad.
Sri Lanka have not played any international match since their AFC Solidarity Cup tie against Macau in November, 2016.
The youth dominated current Sri Lankan side are however, guided by experienced head coach Nizam Packeer Ali, who played for Abahani Limited in the 1980s.
Packeer also guided Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Limited to the premier league title in 2011 as head coach.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka played a couple of friendlies in 2014 with the host winning 1-0 in Rajshahi and drawing 1-1 in Jessore.
WHAT THEY SAID
Jamie Day, Bangladesh head coach
Our Olympic national football team played very nicely in the Asian Games. In the last three months we had very hard training and participates in some good number of matches. We had some good results abroad, now we have a new squad. We also have some senior and experienced players in our team. We are very excited to do a good result in [today’s] match against Sri Lanka in Nilphamari. This is our preparation match before the Saff Football Championship 2018. The Saff Championship is a very tough competition. According to the Fifa ranking, we are not in a good position in the Saff region. In Saff, our target first is to win in the group stage matches, then step by step, we will like to reach the final. Our boys are physically fit, we will give our best effort to clinch the Saff title, that is our target.
Nizam Packeer Ali, Sri Lanka head coach
It will be a good match. Both teams want to win the match. We have had good training for the last few months in Japan and South Korea. We played another friendly against Lithuania, result was good (1-1) draw. It will be a good experience for us to play in a new environment, like in Nilphamari. Bangladesh have a good team now, and for the future as well.