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Favourites Bangladesh take on Bhutan in Saff opener

  • Published at 09:48 pm September 3rd, 2018
Bangladesh
Bangladesh train ahead of their Saff Championship opener against Bhutan on Monday. Md Manik

Bhutan’s English head coach Trevor Morgan and captain Karma Shedrud both termed Bangladesh as group favourites for not only having home advantage but also taking note from their Asian Games display

Bangladesh are looking forward to take inspiration from their Asian Games performance along with positives from the Sri Lanka friendly before kicking off their Saff Championship 2018 campaign against familiar foes Bhutan, at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Tuesday at 7pm.

After the last time the two South-Asian neighbours played each other, it was termed as one of the worst times in Bangladesh football causing the national team to have no international fixtures for the next 17 months.

The 3-1 win over a soulless Bangladesh team during the Asian Cup qualifiers play-off two years ago seemed to not help the Bhutan team much as they lost all of their six Asian Cup qualifiers fixtures and a friendly since then. They are now in Dhaka with changes in as many as 17 players from their previous game in April this year.

Bhutan’s English head coach Trevor Morgan and captain Karma Shedrud both termed Bangladesh as group favourites for not only having home advantage but also taking note from their Asian Games display.

But with the inspiring Asiad memory not so far away and the reality-check during the defeat against Sri Lanka last week put Bangladesh head coach Jamie Day in a difficult situation lately, but the English coach has put his faith on a mixture of youth and experience while finalizing the squad and suggested that every squad member will get game time due to three matches taking place in just five days.

“There is no young and old anymore, there is only one team now. [Tomorrow] will be the best eleven I have seen so far and also the best combination,” said Day after Monday’s training session at Kamalapur stadium.

Day later added in the pre-match presser that there were lackings against Sri Lanka which they worked on to recover in last few days. The target for now was set to advance past the group stages first.

“The boys know what is expected. I put no pressure on the players whatsoever. As long as the players showed the same attitude, the desire they have shown in the last 14 weeks, I’ll be happy.”  

Without denying the attacking approach the team had during the Asiad, Day expects different scenarios and challenges in each game and wants all his players in the squad play their role.

“There will be a lot of game time in a short space of time. Everyone in the squad will be used. There will be injuries, fatigue and yellow cards so the squad that plays against Bhutan will probably be different against Pakistan. Everyone in the squad is therefore important.”

Day continued, “We look out for what the positive things were [from Sri Lanka]. We take this into the future games. We had been organized in the Asian Games, so we have to combine both.”

Meanwhile, no Bangladesh captain was announced as Day said after the press conference that all of his 20 players are captains. He however was accompanied by the most veteran member in the squad, defender Nasir Uddin Chowdhury.

Nasir said, “We have worked pretty hard in the last few months and played a few practice matches abroad. We will try to play according to the coach’s plans. If we give our best from each of our respective positions, hopefully we will do well.”

Bhutan coach Morgan, who joined the side in March, sets his team’s target to get four points from the group and start getting them from their opening game against the hosts.  

“First match is very important because all the teams in the group have three tough matches within five days. So if you lose the first match then the job becomes really difficult. If we will not win then we must want to leave the field with at least one point which is very important to get confidence for the second match.”