• Wednesday, Nov 14, 2018
  • Last Update : 01:30 pm

Bangladesh U16 girls look to continue dominance in AFC Championship

  • Published at 07:23 pm September 14th, 2018
Bangladesh U16 coach Golam Rabbani Choton (center) and captain Maria Manda (right) speaks at the pre-tournament press conference
Bangladesh U16 coach Golam Rabbani Choton (center) and captain Maria Manda (right) speaks at the pre-tournament press conference of the AFC Women's Championship in Dhaka.

Bangladesh head coach Golam Rabbani Choton informed that they have 12 players in the current squad who were part of last edition’s historic success and midfielder Maria is still leading the way

Bangladesh U16 women’s team will be looking forward to retaining their place as group winners, with an eye to improve their performance from the past, as the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2019 Group F Qualifiers is all set to kick-off  in Dhaka on Saturday.

Maria Manda and co made history when they finished as group champions and qualified for the final round for the first time in history but this time around the home side may face a stiffer challenge from Vietnam.

Vietnam will take on United Arab Emirates in the inaugural game at Birshrestha Shaheed Sepahi Mustafa Kamal  Stadium in Kamalapur at 11.30am while a strong Lebanon side face Bahrain in the day’s second match at 3.30pm. Bangladesh begins the campaign against Bahrain on Sunday.

Bangladesh head coach Golam Rabbani Choton informed that they have 12 players in the current squad who were part of last edition’s historic success and midfielder Maria is still leading the way. Choton wants his side to rectify the mistakes from the three tournaments they played in this year.

“We worked on the mistakes we made in recent tournaments. Good news is that the new players are doing well in terms of fitness and skill. We are ready. Our target is to better our performance from the last time.” said Choton in a press conference at the BFF House Friday, before admitting that Vietnam would be the strongest opponent they would face.

The four other teams started their preparation two months ago while Vietnam head coach Ngueyen Thi Mai Lan informed that their players had also been involved with some tournaments including U16 and U19 level in the first one-and-a-half month before going for full preparation for this meet, two weeks ago.

Thi Mai Lan has set their target to get through the first round of the qualifiers with the confidence of his side’s potential before terming the hosts and Lebanon as favourites, “especially Bangladesh”. Vietnam finished runners-up only behind Australia from the group stage of the qualifiers in the last edition two years ago.

Horiya Al Taheri was the assistant coach when UAE came to Dhaka for the same competition two years ago, where Bangladesh confirmed their berth in the final beating UAE 4-0 in the last day of group stages. The UAE coach informed that they are a new team looking for experience and improvement and to know where their level is in Asia.

This is the first time that Lebanon will be playing in this competition despite having three (U17, U19 and seniors) annual women’s football league, one of which is running for eight years now. Their head coach Hagop Demirdgian talked about the development of women’s football in their country but also said, “We have got a good style of play. We don’t think about the results but to develop our game. The target is to develop the team more for the next round.”

Bahrain returned to the meet after being absent in the previous edition and their head coach Khaled Hassan also said that they are here for the experience and want to qualify for the final round in the next three years. He also termed Bangladesh as a “good and strong team”.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh will face Bahrain, Lebanon, UAE and Vietnam on September 17, 19, 21 and 23 respectively. The group champions and top two runners-up from six groups will move to the second round of qualifiers scheduled to be held in February-March next year.