Bangladesh booters start their campaign in the five-nation SAFF Championship 2021 when they face Sri Lanka in the tournament opener on Friday (Oct 1) at the National Football Stadium in Male, capital of the Maldives.
The match will kick-off at 5pm Bangladesh time. T-Sports will telecast the match live.
Bangaladesh’s following fixtures in the group phase would be against India (Oct 4 at 5pm), hosts Maldives (Oct 7 at 10pm) and finally Nepal (Oct 13 at 5pm). All games of this year’s championship will be held at the same venue in Male.
Earlier on Tuesday, a 34-member Bangladesh football team, comprising 23 booters and 11 officials, reached the Maldives airing high hopes of success in the quest for regional bragging rights.
It will be Bangladesh’s first assignment under Spaniard Oscar Bruzon, who made the switch from managing BPL champions Bashundhara Kings to take over as interim head coach of the national team
Meanwhile, Bangladesh team had their 2nd Covid -19 tests in the Maldives and all the players tested negative.
Midfielder Sohel Rana and defender Rezaul Karim however will not feature in Friday’s matchday squad, both down with fever.
The team made practiced at the Henveiru training pitch on Thursday for 90 minuites. Later they visited the National Football Stadium.
In a pre-match press conference, Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuiyan spoke with purpose and positive intent. “We want to start the tournament getting the full 3 points by playing a good match against Sri Lanka,” said the midfield general.
Since replacing Englishman Jamie Day, Bruzon has certainly talked a good game and exuded a confidence rarely seen around the green-and-reds. One clear plus he enjoys over previous foreigners in the job is that after three years in charge of the Kings, he already has extensive knowledge of football in Bangladesh.
Add to that the success he has enjoyed, taking Bashundhara to the pinnacle of Bangladesh football with not just the silverware to prove it, but also an attractive, modern brand of football that puts the onus on technique – as you’d expect from Spaniards of his generation.
”We want to show our ability tomorrow with the available players in our squad,” the 44-year-old said in the pre-match presser.
In early September, Bangladesh toured Kyrgyzstan and played three matches-- two as part of a tri-nation tournament with the hosts and Palestine, and a friendly against the Kyrgyz U-23 team.
Over the course of those three games, all ending in hopeless defeats, it became clear that the national team was going nowhere under Englishman Day, with his gimmicky selections of diaspora Bangladeshis plying their trade in semi-professional leagues as far away as Canada proving a damp squib.
While diaspora picks such as captain and talisman Jamal Bhuiyan are of course welcome, playing in any foreign league and almost any division should be no ticket to the national team.
Bruzon’s more comprehensive football philosophy is what BFF needs to develop the game nationally. But his assignment for now remains temporary, covering the short term.
Members of Bangladesh squad (footballers) are:
Shahidul Alam Sohel, Anisur Rahman and Ashraful Islam Rana (Custodians), Rahmat Miah, Bishwanath Ghosh, Topu Barman, Tariq Raihan Kazi , Riyadul Hasan, Yeasin Arafat, Tutul Hossain Badsha, Rezaul Karim and Mohammad Hridoy (Defenders); Jamal Bhuiyan, Atiqur Rahman Fahad , Sohel Rana, M Saaduddin and Rakib Hossain (Midfielders), Mahbubur Rahman Sufil, Mohammad Ibrahim, Matin Miah ,Jewel Rana, Biplo Ahmed and Sumon Reza (Forwards).