Dhaka, Sept 5 (UNB) – Hosts Bangladesh will play Pakistan in the seven-nation 12th SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 at Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Thursday, eying a semifinal berth from Group A.
A victory for each team in the match beginning at 7pm will ensure a last four spot in the seven-nation football extravaganza.
Two losing sides of the group -– Nepal and Bhutan –- will lock horns for their survival at 4 pm also on Thursday. The defeated team will be eliminated from the race.
Hosts Bangladesh and Pakistan are dominating the Group A securing full three points from their first matches while Nepal and Bhutan are yet to open the account losing their respective first match.
Nepal lost to Pakistan by 1-2 goals while Bhutan conceded 0-2 goal defeat against Bangladesh in identical fashions.
Ahead of the 2nd match against Pakistan, Bangladesh coach Jamie Day was cautious to keep his foot in the ground.
Bangladesh avoided practice session on Wednesday trying to kick the fatigue out.
“Pakistan is a strong team and they have a number of players who have experiences of playing football in Europe. They are also good in counter attacks. It’s an important match for us and we’ll be cautious not to make any mistakes,” said the Bangladesh coach.
Pakistan’s Brazilian coach Antonio Nogueria was fully confident of the challenge.
“We’re back at the international scene with a bang. We have a plan to give our best and we did the best. We were the more attacking team and we will continue to do that,” he said.
Pakistan team are more efficient on the counterattack with forward Saadullah and Muhammad Ali leading the front. Guided by experienced Zesh Rehman, Pakistani four backs were also well-organised to foil Bangladesh attacks.
Nepal and Bhutan go through their battle of existence in the SAFF Championship.
Penalties and counterattacks ruled the opening day’s matches on Tuesday as both the Himalayan countries (Nepal and Bhutan) conceded defeat in their openers.
Pakistan took the lead off a penalty and netted the winner off a quick counterattack in the dying minutes. Bangladesh also nailed Bhutan with an early penalty and struck the second off a speedy counterattack early after the re-start.
Nepal coach Bal Gopal Maharjan has a good confidence on his attacking trio -- Bharat Khawas, Bimal Bharti Magar and Nawjug Shreshta -- who are able to deliver when required.
“I admit that they lacked the right rhythm against Pakistan, but I believe our time is not over. We have another two very hard matches to prove our worth,” he said.
Nepal have to work on its defence also as the defenders provided more space for their opponents in the crucial stages.
Bhutan saw their talisman Chencho Gyaltsen failing to make the impact and let the team down missing an open net against Bangladesh.
Tightly marked by the defenders, Chencho was looking for the air with the supply from the midfield also being relatively short. Bhutan have to rise on the occasion to save them from elimination.