All are aware that Bangladesh is languishing in the bottom layer of FIFA and AFC ranking. The position even at SAF level is also not encouraging. Teams like Maldieves, Bhutan and Nepal, which in 1980s and 1990s were no way near Bangladesh, have advanced ahead of Bangladesh.
There can be lots of criticism about football ICON Kazi Salauddin led BFF over the last decade. But at least he kept the football going organizing different tournaments and leagues. Bangladesh teams just won the Bangabandhu Memorial Trophy winning first of the two matches series against depleted Nepal team 2-0 and drawing the other 0-0. The team has now flown to Doha today for playing a very important qualifier match for the FIFA World Cup and Asia Cup. Qatar is the reigning Asian Champion and host of FIFA world Cup 2022. Bangladesh played admirably well in their home match going down fighting 0-2. Bangladesh played exceptionally well in their match against strong India at Salt Lake Stadium Kolkata against India. The host was lucky to escape with a point from 1-1 hard fought draw.
We are all aware that Qatar is a very strong team. Bangladesh with very limited preparation over a short period appears not even 50% ready for competing well against the host. The match will be played on 4 December. Bangladesh after staying in mandatory quarantine for few days at Doha will have opportunity for playing two practice matches before the actual event. This writer is not a regular viewer of Bangladesh football recently. But for a renewed interest watched the last two matches against Nepal with great interest. Would not care that 8 players of Nepal national team could not travel to Bangladesh for pandemic infection. Yet players good enough for representing a national team higher in ranking than Bangladesh cannot be taken lightly. Bangladesh played the first match smartly and shot into lead very early through brilliant goal from one of their two upcoming strikers Jeebon. Later they consolidated the score through a brilliant solo effort of Sufil. However, Bangladesh team could not keep up the pace in the second half when Nepal bounced back retching control of the mid field. It was clear that lack of practice for a long time did not prepare the team for playing a steadily for the entire duration of the match.
The second match was far more competitive as spirited Nepal learning lessons from the first match defended doggedly and even attacked with passion. Bangladesh got few opportunities. But the lack of striking abilities was again surfaced . Bangladesh was lucky escaping unhurt as goal bound header of a Nepalese striker bounced striking the side post. The 0-0 score line however was enough for Bangladesh winning a football series for the first time in 11 years. Any win is always welcome as Bangladesh hardly win these days in international soccer.
However, Bangladesh head coach having CORONA positive on test twice could not accompany the team. One important player Rana also could not go. Stiker Navid Newaj Jeebon getting injured at the last minute also stayed back. It is to be whether all three recovers on time to join the team.
We must not be too optimistic in the match against far superior Qatar. Moreover, with very little preparation the team is not physically and mentally ready for playing competitive soccer against strong opposition over 90 minutes .It was encouraging noting that Bangladesh is playing smart brand of organized soccer. The defense looks compact. Lots of short passes are traded with accuracy. Counter attack based smart soccer creates opportunities as players upfront have pace and agility. The only thing they lack is ability to strike at the right moment. Against Qatar the main focus will be resolute defending and damage control. Taking a clue from the India’s match against Qatar Bangladesh must demonstrate never sat die attitude, as Bangladesh has nothing to loose. Hope Bangladesh would focus on salvaging a point at least or controlling the damage. Bangladesh must see that in domestic football local teams regularly plays at least one local player as striker. If local strikers stay at bench in local leagues and tournaments how can they grow .There is no point dominating the proceeding, failing to score and ultimately losing.
BDST: 1300 HRS, NOV 19, 2020