Bangladesh head coach Jamie Day, reminding the importance of the first game in a three-team group, said the players are ready and confident to begin their mission on a positive note
The sixth edition of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup is all set to get underway with four countries out of six taking part for the first time as host Bangladesh take on one of the debutants, Laos, in the inaugural match at Sylhet District Stadium Monday at 6:30pm.
National team head coach Jamie Day, reminding the importance of the first game in a three-team group, said the players are ready and confident to begin their mission on a positive note.
Captain and midfielder Jamal Bhuiyan on the other hand is treating the match as an opportunity to “forget what happened at the Saff Championship”.
The biggest international tournament organised by the BFF had seen south east Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia sending their teams for the previous editions but it would be the first time for Laos and Philippines, Bangladesh’s two Group B opponents.
Bangladesh recorded a brilliant comeback from a two-goal deficit [2-2] when they played against Laos last time during a friendly away on March 27 this year. The game marked Bangladesh’s return to international action after 17 months. The scorers from that game, Mahbubur Rahman Sufil and Jafar Iqbal are also in the current squad.
Day is likely to rely on Sufil for the centre forward’s role after the young striker’s decent performance in the Asian Games 2018 in Indonesia, and the Saff Championship at home, while Jafar will be desperate to prove his worth after being absent in the Saff squad. He will be making a return along with the other Asiad youngsters Rabiul Hasan, Matin Mia and Mohammad Ibrahim.
“It’s a new competition, we added the younger players to the squad to add more pace in the attacking line-up,” said Day at the pre-tournament press conference in Sylhet Sunday.
He added, “We take confidence from the Saff Championship, it was disappointing we didn’t qualify for the semi-final but we played well in three games. Now we want to use that in Gold Cup with a younger squad than Saff.
“It’s important [to play the first game] if we get a good result we are halfway to qualifying, that’s what we are trying to do. On the other hand, the first game can knock you out of the competition. We need to go and try to win the game. It’s going to be a tough game, they have good players and a good coach. But we are prepared.”
Jamal said, “The preparation has been going well after the Asian Games and Saff. We have 23 players all competing for the starting XI. It’s a good opportunity for us to forget about what happened in Saff. I have confidence and look forward to this tournament.”
Bangladesh were ruled out of the Saff Championship group stage, despite winning two games out of three, after the Olympic [U-23] team concluded their historic Asiad campaign last month where they fought bravely against all the higher-ranked opponents.
The Asiad youngsters dominate the latest squad and face similar circumstances, considering the Fifa ranking of the rest of the participants.
If they fail to leave the mark against 179th-ranked Laos, the men in red and green may face a tougher test against 114th-ranked Philippines in their second and last group stage match in the same city Friday.
Meanwhile, reigning champion Nepal, who are placed in Group A along with favourite Palestine, will begin their campaign against Tajikistan Tuesday.
Bangladesh v Laos, 6:30pm
The game will be held in Sylhet
Bangladesh Head to head Laos
193 Fifa ranking 179
1 Match 1
0 Win 1
1 Goals scored 2