Bangladesh coach Jamie Day says he is “pleased” to see the national team “can win matches and compete” against higher-ranked teams.
With the players enjoying Eid-ul-Fitr holidays, Day spoke about a wide range of issues in an interview on Wednesday, the third day of his five-day quarantine at a hotel on his return from England following a month-long break, bdnews24.com reports.
Bangladesh began their camp for the 2022 Qatar World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers without him on Tuesday. The camp is set to resume after the Eid holidays on Sunday.
He is spending his time watching movies and planning for the team in “a lot of quarantine” in the past year amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
So what changes to the Bangladesh squad impressed him most over the past three years?
“I am pleased with how now we can win matches and compete against higher-ranked nations," Day said. "I believe before I came the Bangladesh team had won three games in 28 matches.
“I would like to have got out of the group stage at the SAAF Championship last time as we deserved it.”
He said lots of changes are required “but it needs investment”.
“I would think India players get more money than (those of) Bangladesh.”
The coach also pointed out another problem with South Asian football: “Unless you develop players at a young age and coach them correctly, you won't get world-class players.”
India are improving this area. “If you look at India the teams are far more professional.
They all have youth sections to develop young players, good facilities to train and play league games,” Day said.
He said he had brought back Rezaul Karim to have a closer look at him in training because he was consistent this season.
He, however, dropped Jewel Rana, who was also playing well in the domestic league recently.
“I believe we have picked the best players that fit our criteria. International football is far higher standard than BPL,” Day said.
The 41-year-old former Arsenal youngster reminisced about his old club, who he agreed are “not doing well now”, languishing down in ninth place in English Premier League.
“Yes, they are not doing so well at the moment and a long way behind the top clubs.”
Having joined the Gunners as a trainee at 10, Day’s most memorable moment came when he made it to the bench for the first team in the Premier League against Crystal Palace in February 1998.
He came through the youth ranks and won the Premier Academy League title in 1998 as well as the Floodlit Cup.
During that time he was training regularly with Arsene Wenger’s first team.
Wenger, however, is not Day’s favourite coach, the Bangladesh coach revealed. His favourite coaches are Bobby Robson and Don Howe. And Arsenal and Netherlands legend Dennis Bergkamp is his favourite player.
“Wenger changed the whole club from diets to training programmes and playing style. He was very calm in his approach and methods. He created a good team environment where everyone worked for each other,” Day recalled.
He thinks Bangladesh national team players’ diet and fitness are “far greater now than before I arrived and they are far more professional”.
“There is always room for improvement though.”
People have a wrong idea about the Bangladesh players that they cannot play 90 minutes, Day said.
“The problem is they get no rest and play continuously all year round so fatigue sets in,” he noted.
All the home matches of the qualifiers have been moved away due to the pandemic. So, what’s Bangladesh’s target now?
“It's very tough as we now only got to play one home game out of six which I think is the only team in the group to do that,” Day said, declining to say what they expect as “that's kept between the staff and players”.
He wished all the fans of Bangladesh Eid Mubarak. “I hope they have a great time with their families and friends and keep safe and healthy.”