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A different Bangladesh at youth level

  • Published at 10:51 pm November 2nd, 2018
Bangladesh U-15 football team stretching during training in Nepal Friday BFF

The U-15 boys are looking forward to carrying on their fine form to the final against a formidable Pakistan side, scheduled to be held at ANFA Complex in Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal Saturday at 2:45pm

The Bangladesh youth team would be making their second final appearance in the south Asian age-group tournament in Nepal Saturday.

The situation is pretty similar to three years ago when a group of juvenile U-16 booters clinched their first ever title in the same competition back home.

The memories could inspire the current U-15 players ahead of their crucial final against Pakistan in the Saff U-15 Championship, but the bitter consequences of the previous champions would provide caution to the respective authorities as well.

It might not be right to compare the current age-level side with the senior side but Bangladesh’s consistency in getting better results in the youth level and not in the senior level has brought back the same question after the latest instances of the U-15 team’s victories over the two most successful senior Saff Championship champions India and Maldives, along with host Nepal, in the ongoing tournament.

The question of getting the best out of these young talents in future was put forward to the national team head coach Jamie Day after he returned to Dhaka Thursday from a two-week vacation. 

After praising the players and the head coach Mostafa Anwar Parvez Babu, the English coach admitted what should be done: “They need to now get full-time training to keep progressing and hopefully move up the age groups with the national teams.”

Before the age-limit shifted to U-15 last year, Bangladesh U-16 team defeated 2013 and 2017 champion India twice before winning the 2015 edition unbeaten in Sylhet. 

Due to lack of playing and practice opportunities, majority of those players are now out of the scene. 

One of notable performers in the final, goalkeeper Faisal Ahmed is now simultaneously doing job and playing at Bangladesh Police.

Among the 2015 troop, Saad Uddin (Abahani Limited), Sarwar Zaman Nipu, Mohammad Atikuzzaman and Mohammad Jewel (Arambagh Krira Sangha), Khalil Bhuiyan (Rahmatganj Muslim Friends Society) and Mostajeb Khan (Chittagong Abahani) are currently involved with the top-flight clubs but only Saad managed to keep his place in the senior national side.

Syed Golam Jilani, the then head coach, told Dhaka Tribune, “You can’t judge a team based on their performance in age-group but these young players badly need proper nurturing to maintain the growth and consistency at senior level, which could pave the way for a better pipeline for the national team. The players should also be more disciplined.”

Jilani had only one and a half months while Parvez’s current team got one month more for preparation, that started on August 10 this year, in Nilphamari. 

Parvez guided the U-13 national team in 2015 from where only captain Mehedi Hasan remained till now, keeping the armband as well.  

Parvez expressed hope saying, “There are a few players who have bright prospect of representing the senior team in future. But for that they need proper nurturing.”

When asked whether the same situation would prevail among the current group of U-15 players like the ones from three years ago, BFF general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag replied, “Things are different now. These players are part of BFF’s youth development project. Like our president [Kazi Salahuddin] pledged earlier, the residential camp will continue after their return to ensure regular training opportunities.”

Geared up for the final

The U-15 boys are looking forward to carrying on their fine form to the final against a formidable Pakistan side, scheduled to be held at ANFA Complex in Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal Saturday at 2:45pm.

“Players reached that stage improving match by match. All credit to them. The final is the result of their hard work,” said Parvez, adding that their final opponent are a better side in terms of physical appearance.

Pakistan beat India and Bhutan in the group stage before beating Nepal in the last four with a dominant display.

“To me, Pakistan are the strongest team in the tournament. We are working on their strong and weak sides and want to play our game accordingly. We will play for the win and hopefully we will enjoy the game. The players are determined, and they are ready for the final,” Parvez explained.

Captain Mehedi said, “It’s a very important game for us. We have to do everything to win the game. If we implement what our coaches instructed and taught us, then we will win. We are now focusing on the final. Pakistan are a strong team but we are no less than them.”