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Dhaka Tribune

Titu: Girls tried heart and soul to fight till end

Head coach Saiful Bari Titu hailed the fighting spirit of his disciples while evaluating the team’s performance during an exclusive interview with Dhaka Tribune

Update : 10 Feb 2024, 12:25 AM

Against the Indian side comprising players from the Under-17 FIFA World Cup squad, Bangladesh U-19 women’s team emerged victorious in the group round before holding them to 11-11 in the shootout of Thursday’s final where both nations were declared champions after a toss error. On both occasions, Mosammat Sagorika scored in stoppage time to change the fate of the game. Head coach Saiful Bari Titu hailed the fighting spirit of his disciples while evaluating the team’s performance during an exclusive interview with Dhaka Tribune. He also shared his experience on the field during the toss drama and praised Sagorika’s promising skills. Here are the excerpts:

What is your take on the grand finale?

First, it’s good to become champions. Second, the toss incident was totally unexpected. Mistakes can happen but making mistakes in the final is embarrassing. If it happened in the semi-final or any group match, it would have been different. We had to stay in the field for a long time. Probably I never faced such situation before. But it can happen and everything has a beginning.

Did you experience such marathon shootout before?

During an Independence Cup match between Sheikh Russel and Abahani at this same field in 2021, there was something like 17-16 (13-12) in the tiebreaker. After every player converted their first chance, they started taking again one after another. I was the coach of Sheikh Russel in that game.  

What was going through your mind when the referee called the captains for the toss?

I thought the toss was for who would go for the first shot after all 11 players took one each. At that time, we were discussing why our goalkeeper couldn’t save any of the 11 penalties. Then suddenly I saw the Indian captain running and celebrating. Later I realized that the championship was awarded by toss.

Are you content with the final outcome?

Overall, what matters the most is that we became unbeaten champions. India also deserved to be the winners. Undoubtedly they played very good. In that sense, it’s justified to declare both the teams joint champions.

How do you evaluate your team’s performance?

The players were perhaps overexcited in the final. They couldn’t break India’s momentum in the first half. I was shouting from the dugout. They started playing long passes rather than the way we wanted to play. But India have some individual players who are very good, especially their attackers. They have experience of playing against top European and African teams at the U-17 World Cup.

Don’t you think the players deserve more credit for putting up such fight against a World Cup member?

All credit goes to the players because of their extraordinary performance. The thing I liked most about them is their mentality. The girls tried heart and soul. They didn’t want to stop the fight until it was over. That is why they tried till the end to equalize the margin. It was a very competitive final.

How do you rate Sagorika’s show?

Sagorika has good pace and she can run with the ball well. Undoubtedly, she is a very prominent player for the future. She covered her physical disadvantage with other skills like speed and touch on ball. If we can guide her properly, she can be the star of the future.

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