Bangladesh face Afghanistan in joint qualifiers of the world cup and the Asian Cup in Qatar today (Thursday).
The 23 men squad, led by Jamal Bhuyan, the captain of the Bangladesh side, left for Qatar on May 28.
Currently, Bangladesh is placed at 184th position in the FIFA ranking while Afghanistan is at 149. Most of the Afghan players play in different European leagues.
In today’s match, Bangladesh team will be missing Mahbubur Rahman Sufil, who is reportedly tested positive for Covid-19. Biswanath Ghosh will miss the clash too due to injury. Hence, Mohammad Ibrahim made it to the squad.
Bangladesh team didn't play any practice match in Qatar. Tough Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) planned to send the team to Dammam, Saudi Arabia, for a practice match, eventually, the team went to Qatar directly instead. However, the team warmed up in a friendly game against Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi before flying off, which they drew 2-2. Team Afghanistan have practised well though, beating Indonesia by 3-2 goals. Though Bangladesh couldn't play any practice match in Qatar, they played a practice match against Club in Bangladesh where they drew 2-2.
While Bangladesh lost 1-0 to Afghanistan in the first leg in 2019, coach Jamie Day is optimistic about this one. He told the media before leaving the country, “Our target is to do something good. We will practice in Doha for some days and we will get ready for the match. We want to come back to Dhaka with satisfactory result’
Optimism soared in captain Jamal Bhuyan’s voice too as he said earlier, “They are physically better than us. But we are a better side in tactics; we have some players in our squad who have speed. We will try to play our best and give the hundred per cent for our country.”
The Bangladesh side is now at the bottom of the point table in its group with just one point. Full three points today is necessary for the side to play in the AFC.
In a conversation with the writer, former Bangladesh captain and SAFF winning goalkeeper Aminul Haque told the Financial Express, “Bangladesh is playing under Jamie Day for a long time. It is a good sign.”
He is aware of the Qatar conditions and the Afghan team as he adds, “In that condition, players sweat a little but it is very hot there. It can be tiring. Also, they (Afghan players) are physically in better shape than Bangladesh. They have better fitness. They play in different leagues in Europe which is a plus point for them.”
“Afghanistan is a better side. We have some lackings in our preparation. It will be a tough match. If we can't win, a draw would be a good result,” believes the former veteran goalkeeper.
Bangladesh will be playing India and Oman in the coming weeks. The team is eying a successful campaign in Qatar, and winning this opener against Afghanistan is important. The match will be broadcast live at 8 pm tonight on T Sports and Gazi TV.
Bashiir Ahammed is studying English at Stamford University Bangladesh.