• Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Can Bangladesh end long 18-year wait against Maldives?

  • Published at 07:15 am October 7th, 2021
Bangladesh interim head coach Oscar Bruzon briefs his charges during training in Male Wednesday BFF

A victory would enhance Bangladesh's chances of advancing to the final, while a defeat would all but rule out defending champions Maldives' prospects of reaching the grand finale

There was a time when Bangladesh used to beat Maldives regularly, on one occasion the men in red and green even won by margin of eight goals.

But over time, Maldives, with a population of just 500,000, got the upper hand over Bangladesh, winning twice and drawing once in their Saff encounters, with the latter's only victory coming in the 2003 edition riding on a Arif Khan Joy goal.

Bangladesh would also not remember their last clash against Maldives with fondness as the former got beaten 5-0 under Belgian manager Tom Saintfiet in a 2016 friendly in Male.

While Bangladesh have won the Saff Championship once, in 2003, Maldives have been victorious twice, in 2008 and 2018.

The tide has turned somewhat though in the 2021 Saff Championship with Bangladesh getting off to a fast start, picking up four points in two matches, while Maldives have struggled in their only game so far, a 1-0 loss to Nepal.

Bangladesh have been riding a wave of optimism after beating Sri Lanka in their opening game and then holding mighty India to a creditable draw, and would be confident of continuing their unbeaten run with victory against Maldives, thus ending an 18-year wait.

A victory would also enhance Bangladesh's chances of advancing to the final, while a defeat would all but rule out defending champions Maldives' prospects of reaching the grand finale.

In their pursuit of victory against the reigning champions, Bangladesh are expected to be tested by Maldives' formidable attackers like Ali Ashfaq and Ali Fasir so Bangladesh defenders Topu Barman and Kazi Tariq Raihan would need to be on their guard.

And while Bangladesh's two goals so far have been scored by defenders Topu and Yasin Arafat, the attackers have had promising forays into the opposition half in the first two games, indicating that it is a matter of when, and not if, one of the forwards would grab a goal.

Bangladesh are also likely to benefit from interim head coach Oscar Bruzon's previous stint for Maldives side New Radiant.

The Spaniard has a good idea about the Maldives players and the country's football and that might prove to be handy for Bangladesh.

Maldives, at 158th position in the Fifa ranking, may be above 189th ranked Bangladesh but going by current form, the men in red and green could not have asked for a better opportunity to put one over their South Asian rivals and end the long 18-year wait.

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