A confident Bangladesh U-16 women's football team will take the first major leap in preparation for their much-awaited appearance in the AFC Women's Championship as they are scheduled to leave here for Japan tonight. The five-day long “camp” will be the first instance of a Bangladesh women's football side preparing abroad for a tournament.
The young girls will take part in the J-Green Sakai U-15 Women's Football Festival in Osaka and are expected to play at least four matches there. But the team is mainly focusing on gaining experience in order to boost their preparation, as well as to get an insight about the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese women's football clubs.
As it appears, Bangladesh girls will have a very hectic time in their maiden tour of Japan. After around 10-hour long transit in Singapore, Bangladesh will land in Osaka Kansai tomorrow night. Without even a single-day break, the girls are scheduled to play a friendly match against Sakai Academy this Thursday afternoon.
Following just a day's break, Bangladesh will play at least four matches in only two days in the Women's Football Festival scheduled to be held from January 28-29. They will play three matches on the first day, against AC Imabari, Cerezo and NGU Nagoya FC Ladies before facing Amagasaki Ladies the following day.
The team will begin their return journey the following morning.
“Japan are a very strong team and ranked among the top teams in Fifa. The professional clubs in Japan run top-notch youth development programmes. Our girls will have a great experience there. They will play and train alongside world-class players,” said head coach Golam Rabbani Choton yesterday.
He added, “This will surely be a learning experience for the girls. We will know more about our strengths.”
The girls in red and green have exhibited spectacular displays in different competitions in the last couple of years, including getting qualified for the AFC U-16 Women's Championship for the first time in history, that too maintaining a hundred percent winning record in the Qualifiers.
During their journey, the girls were accompanied closely by assistant coaching couple Mahbubur Rahman Litu and Mahmuda Akhter Ananya. The former is travelling with the girls but the latter will sit out the Japan tour. In total, a 24-member delegation, including 18 players, will travel to the land of the rising sun.
The AFC U-16 Women's Championship will be held in Thailand from September 9-23 this year. Bangladesh will face top Asians footballing nations like Japan, North Korea, China, Australia, South Korea, Laos and the home side.