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Dhaka Tribune

Titu: It’s a challenge to keep women’s football on right track

Saiful Bari Titu gave an exclusive interview to Dhaka Tribune where he talked about women's football and the challenges ahead

Update : 24 Jul 2023, 05:42 PM

Former Bangladesh men's team head coach Saiful Bari Titu was recently given the responsibility of the national women's side ahead of the 19th Asian Games in China, but is still awaiting confirmation from the organizers with regards to his registration with the mega event only two months away. Titu sat in a meeting with Bangladesh Football Federation president Kazi Salahuddin Saturday after which the former national footballer gave an exclusive interview to Dhaka Tribune where he talked about women's football and the challenges ahead. Below are the excerpts:

How do you summarize the journey of women's football in Bangladesh?

It was very tough at the beginning. There was perhaps rally against why girls would play with half pant, something like this. The obstacles were there. But they conquered the country gradually. This transformation is quite fantastic to me. It's quite wonderful.

Did you find out the strong and weak points of the current squad?

We can't say this in details before working closely with the team. It's difficult to comment from outside. The sooner I start working with them the more I will know about them. One thing is that there was a long gap after Saff Championship before the recent Nepal friendlies. Sometimes not playing regularly reduces the focus. I would know what exactly is happening after I start working.

Have you watched the two recent friendlies against Nepal?

I did. As I have some time before the players return to the camp, I'll prepare a plan after analyzing the Saff Championship matches and Nepal friendlies. First, I have to decide what I should work on. Second, I have to observe their current fitness. It will be helpful to start working on that.

What will be the target?

It's very important to build team chemistry. The chemistry is there probably. I have to help make it better. Main thing is keeping the discipline and togetherness in the team. It doesn't matter what I want. What matters is what they want. My job is to find out what they want and set the mentality accordingly.

Will there be any impact in the team owing to the absence of former head coach Golam Rabbani Choton and technical director Paul Thomas Smalley?

I can't say it now because the girls know better. After talking and working with them I will know what to do to make it right and improve further. They [Choton and Smalley] worked well and gave a structure to the team and I will try to carry on the good work.

What are your thoughts on the replacements of key defender Akhi Khatun and forward Sirat Jahan Shopna, who left the camp recently?

I have to fill the gaps of Akhi and Shopna. This is my job now to find the right replacements so that the team can perform better and build team chemistry. The positive thing is that the juniors will get the chances and if they take it, it would benefit the whole team.

How challenging will your new task be?

The challenge is to maintain the team chemistry. We have to keep it on the right track. It will be a big challenge. The women's team have earned a place in the hearts of Bangladeshi people. Everyone is excited about them. I felt it more as I received a lot of phone calls from my friends congratulating me on becoming the women's team head coach. So it will also be a challenge to uphold the image. It's a big responsibility. But it's normal in coaching life.

You have not worked with women footballers before. Is it something new for you?

This is not totally new because I don't have to learn coaching. The difference between men and women is mostly physical and slightly mental. But all other principles are same in terms of coaching, team building and making a successful squad. The formula is the same.  

What are you expecting from the Asiad?

It depends on many things. We will try to advance to the second round because there wouldn't be huge gap in women's football unlike the men's. It's very close. That is why we are ready to beat any team from the Middle East. But teams like Vietnam, Philippines are playing the World Cup. So if we have the chance to face teams of our quality then why not the second round? It all depends on the draw of the competition which is scheduled for July 27 (Thursday).


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