Millions of supporters in South Asia are expecting another mouthwatering prospect as the two sides are set for their Saff Championship group round clash Monday
The quality of football in South Asia may not be at world class level but the animosity and tension among the neighbors reach an unbelievable height when they meet each other.
In recent history, India, the most populous country in the region, may have nudged their level a little upward but their neighbors Bangladesh always feel the heat and inspiration when they lock horns.
Millions of supporters across the countries are expecting another mouthwatering prospect as the sides are set for their Saff Championship group round clash Monday at Male National Stadium, Maldives.
The match will kickoff at 5pm, Bangladesh time.
Bangladesh made a good start in the tournament by beating Sri Lanka and coach Oscar Bruzon, who got the responsibility as interim basis just before the tournament, was so upbeat that he declared his team as the best side in the tournament.
“Bangladesh are best when it is about concentration and self confidence,” said Bruzon at the pre-match press conference Sunday.
“We want to win against India and for that we need to score goals. Bangladesh lack the capacity of scoring goals. We want to solve the problem and score goals in every match. Hopefully we will do that,” added the Spaniard.
India, the 107th ranked side in the latest Fifa ranking, are 82 places ahead of Bangladesh and got a better head-to-head record but Bangladesh always fought hard against their strong neighbors.
Bangladesh earned a very creditable away draw in Kolkata in their World Cup Qualifier match where they led the game till 85th minute but Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri, one of the most prolific goal scorers in international games, scoring 75 goals in 120 matches, proved too good for them in their last match when they were beaten by 2-0.
“I know Chhetri very well. I was his coach. He is a very dangerous player in the box. But we know how to stop him. We are planning accordingly,” said Bruzon.
Hosts Maldives are also led by another iconic player, Ali Ashfaq, considered as many the greatest ever in South Asia, but Bruzon hailed his skipper Jamal Bhuiyan for his leadership qualities.
However, the coach understands the strength of the Indian side and is hoping for a good fight.
“India are the favorites. They have a very good league. But I think we will have a good fight (Monday) and will play to win,” said Bruzon.
The coach also said Bangladesh have bagged three points in the first match and India, who will start their campaign with the game, have to do catch up job.
The heat of the clash was understandable as Indian coach Igor Stimac indicated that the penalty that Bangladesh got against Sri Lanka to get the solitary goal was a farce and believes his side are much better than their opponents.
“We have come here to become champions but we will not take things lightly,” said the Croatian.
Bangladesh skipper Jamal tried to pour cold water when asked about the Indian coach’s comment regarding the penalty as he thinks it was just a mental game.
"Probably he is trying to play a mental game. There is no reason to think about it and we are only thinking about the win,” said Jamal.
The captain may have sounded diplomatic but it was hard to conceal the excitement and it is expected that the green turf in Male will become a volcano of football with two charged up sides.