• Sunday, Dec 15, 2019
  • Last Update : 02:08 am

Renewed hope for football under Jamie Day

  • Published at 09:21 pm June 7th, 2019
Jamie Day
Bangladesh coach Jamie Day briefs the media in Laos Thursday BFF

The 1-0 away win against Laos in Vientiane will certainly give Bangladesh some much needed momentum in their qualifying campaign for the 2022 Fifa World Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup, since the losers over the two legs will be almost completely devoid of Fifa/Afc-sanctioned competitive fixtures for the next four years.

While the cricket madness grips the nation during the Eid festivities, the Bangladesh national football team too, like their cricketing counterparts, are toiling hard to excel and reinstate their place on the global stage. 

The 1-0 away win against Laos in Vientiane will certainly give Bangladesh some much needed momentum in their qualifying campaign for the 2022 Fifa World Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup, since the losers over the two legs will be almost completely devoid of Fifa/Afc-sanctioned competitive fixtures for the next four years.

A little known former Arsenal trainee during Arsene Wenger’s initial years at the Highbury, Jamie Day may not be the most recognizable faces in world football. 

However, for Bangladesh, he may well be the much-needed miracle worker to bring back the glory days.

Since his arrival, Day has made countless changes to existing practices, much like some of his predecessors. 

But the current head coach aims to completely change the current methods and improve the infrastructure.

The win over Laos did not come as a fluke but on the back off a long-term plan put in place by Day that included intensive training camps over the last year in South Korea, Indonesia, Cambodia and much recently, Thailand.

Despite host Laos pressing on from the word go, the Bangladesh lads displayed brilliant tactical awareness especially during defending. 

Laos will travel to Bangladesh to fight out the second leg Tuesday. 

Speaking to The Guardian,  Day complained about the hurdles he’s faced since joining in last May, “We have turned up to hotels and not had enough bedrooms for the players, times when we have not had enough bibs and times when the grass has not been cut on the pitches so we haven’t not been able to train. They are just little things that all add up. We’ve been on the coach and had to get off because the driver didn’t have a licence. We came out of the airport and got stopped and the players had to get Uber cabs back to their clubs from the airport.”

Day courteously also denied the Bangladesh Football Federation’s incompetency in handling such situations when he said, “It was no fault of the BFF [Bangladesh Football Federation]; they were told everything was fine and obviously it wasn’t. It was frustrating at the time but when you look back you laugh about it.”

Even though the Englishman is focusing on the positives, one cannot help but ponder on reasons why such instances are a mainstay in Bangladesh football.

Yes, cricket is the more popular sport that brings in a large pool of investment but football was always the more dominant sport historically. 

If we leave out the clichéd example of the jam-packed Dhaka stadium during the 80s and the 90s, the madness that takes over during the football world cups are testament to how the average Bangladeshi loves the sport.

La Liga has been catering to Bangladesh after detecting it as a major hub of audience along the South Asian belt of countries. 

Even Day believes that the sport will flourish alongside cricket once they start bringing in positive results.

“You associate Bangladesh with cricket and, don’t get me wrong, it’s a big sport there (Bangladesh) but from what I have seen I would say football has the scope to be even bigger. They love football but they have never been successful at it. I went to the Twenty20 games out in Bangladesh and there were probably 20,000-30,000 people there and we get similar: 30,000-40,000 at our games,” Day said in the interview with The Guardian.

“If you keep winning, like anything in sport, more people turn up and follow. I think football is probably more popular in Bangladesh than cricket but at the minute cricket is way ahead of football because it is more supported and gets more financial investment from sponsorship and things like that,” he added.

While most Bangladeshis are likely to put more faith in the possibility of a World Cup berth from the Bangladesh Women’s team considering their astounding flourish in recent years in age-level, securing a place in the World Cup qualifiers by the men’s team will surely bring back the crowds as well as an injection of investment to revive the sport. 

Quite frankly, Jamie Day seems set to take up the challenge to bring back the glory days and take us to newer heights.

Put Bangladesh back on the football map.