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Semi-finalist Bangladesh face superior Philippines

  • Published at 05:46 pm October 4th, 2018
Bangladesh football team Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

Last time the two sides faced each other was seven years ago during the AFC Challenge Cup where Philippines won the game comfortably by a 3-0 margin

Bangladesh look forward to enjoying their second Bangabandhu Gold Cup 2018 match against a stronger Philippines side with an eye on topping the table as the two semi-finalists take on each other in the final Group B fixture at Sylhet District Stadium today at 6:30pm.

Philippines are 79 places above Bangladesh in the latest Fifa world ranking and it was evident from their dominant win over Laos Wednesday why they are considered group favourite, even without their best squad.

Jamie Day also hinted at giving rest to some of his key players ahead of the semi-finals and the host are still confident of maintaining their fine form to overcome one of the finest attacking line-ups in the tournament.

Last time the two sides faced each other was seven years ago during the AFC Challenge Cup where Philippines won the game comfortably by a 3-0 margin. 

Mamunul Islam is the only member from that squad who keeps his place in the current squad.

Mamunul, who made a late substitute appearance against Laos in the first game, is likely to return to the starting XI, taking his place in the midfield along with Emon Mahmud. 

Jamal Bhuiyan and Waly Faisal had minor knocks but not anything serious as both trained with the team at Sylhet’s BKSP ground yesterday.

Day told reporters after the morning training session, “There will be a few changes. We need to rest a couple of players for the next round. It gives some players who have not played the opportunity to play.”

Rahmat Mia is likely to replace Waly in the left-back position while experienced striker Towhidul Alam Sabuj and centre-back Yeasin Khan may also get a chance to prove their worth.

Keeping in mind the fast attacking threat of the opponents, Day urged his players to put up a better performance than in the first game. 

“As long as we defend properly and keep our shape, it will be good for the boys. It’s a test for all 11 players, not only for the defenders. We are going to play against teams that are lot higher ranked than us. So we need to make sure we are prepared and perform,” said Day.

“They [Philippines] have very good players and they showed it [Wednesday]. They have a good game going forward. I think we need a little bit of luck. We have to enjoy the game, knowing it’s not pressure game but it’s still going to be a really tough game,” added the English coach.

A loss or draw would mean Bangladesh finish second in the group and will likely face top favourite Palestine in the last four, and if they win Tajikistan will be probable opponent. 

“We want to win the group and it’s a good achievement to win the group. If we top the table it would be fantastic, if we don’t, we prepare for what other team we get in the semi-final,” said Day.