The latest Fifa rankings, where Afghanistan are 33 places above Bangladesh, also make Afghans favourite
A vigilant Bangladesh national football team is determined to get a positive result against a strong Afghanistan side when they begin their 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup joint qualification second round campaign in Tajikistan Wednesday.
The Group E encounter kicks off at the neutral venue Pamir Stadium in the capital city of Dushanbe at 8pm Bangladesh Time. Bangla TV will telecast the game live.
Bangladesh have not beaten Afghanistan since their 4-1 win during the 1979 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers 39 years ago. Bangladesh have drawn four times since then while losing the last head-to-head 4-0 during the 2015 Saff Championship.
The latest Fifa rankings, where Afghanistan are 33 places above Bangladesh, also make Afghans favourite. Afghanistan squad have only three players based on domestic league, all from champions Toofan Harirod, while the rest 20 players ply their trade in 14 different countries mostly in Europe.
But Bangladesh, having all the players home based and blended with most of the young players alongside few experienced face in the attacking half, shows no fear about the opponents.
“Afghanistan are a strong team. Technically and physically, they have very good players who play in Europe. So it will be really tough game. It will be a great experience for our younger players and hopefully we can use that in the future.” said head coach Jamie Day during the pre-match presser.
Day repeatedly reminded his players not to make silly mistakes that could cost them the game. “We have to take the chances we get. We need to be in good shape in defence and be organized in midfield because Afghanistan have good midfielders who can cause problem. We have to play extremely well to get a positive result.”
Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuiyan said the team have learnt from the mistakes in the practice matches, and are confident ahead of their 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asia Cup joint qualification match against Afghanistan Tuesday.https://t.co/jaDjQ7NSme#BFF #FOOTBALL #BANGLADESH #JAMAL— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) September 7, 2019
The English coach however has a midfield setback ahead of the crucial tie as Masuk Miah Jony is almost ruled out of the game due to knee injury. The Bashundhara Kings midfielder couldn’t play the two practice matches in Tajikistan last week and joined only parts of the training. Abahani’s in-form midfielder Sohel Rana is among the odds-on to take the chance.
Bangladesh is likely to keep their recent strategy unchanged, playing with 4-2-3-1 formation or similar like that with an eye to attack on the break. The team will mostly rely on youngster Robiul Hasan and on-song experienced striker Nabib Newaz Jibon for the goals. The midfield has two more experienced presences in Jamal Bhuiyan and most-capped Mamunul Islam but the back-line mostly rely on the young shoulders like Tutul Hossain Badsha, Rahmat Mia, Bishwanath Ghosh.
Skipper Jamal said, “We learned a lot from the two practice matches and rectified the mistakes we have done there. Afghanistan is very good with the ball and we need to take care of that. We, the players are so excited for the game because we know we have a chance to get points.”
Afghanistan just came back from the 6-0 defeat against World Cup hosts Qatar in their first group match last week. Their head coach Anoush Dastgir said, “We lost against a team who are Asian champions and played at their own home. If we play 50 times against Qatar maybe we can draw once. We have to be realistic on that.”
The 29-year-old Dastgir was one of the players when Bangladesh and Afghanistan took on each other last time four years back. He changed his tone, “Bangladesh game would be a different game, different system and different style. We know Bangladesh prepared well but it’s a game we have to win and we are prepared as well.”