National football team's head coach Lodewijk de Kruif (R) briefs his charges as assistant coach Rene Koster (L) looks on after a practice match between the players at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday. PHOTOS: STAR
The national U-23 football team's camp for September's Asian Games starts today at the Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishthan (BKSP) under the guidance of head coach Lodewijk de Kruif and assistant coach Rene Koster. The camp has been increased from 25 to 29 members after the National Teams Committee decided to draft in four players -- Atiqur Rahman Farhad, Aminul Islam Sajib, Abdul Malek and Mezbah Uddin to the initially announced 25-member squad.
The 23 members of the initial 25 – barring captain Mamunul Islam who is in Chittagong mourning the unfortunate death of his uncle and Denmark-based Jamal Bhuiyan who is expected to join later– reported to team manager Amirul Islam Babu at the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) house yesterday afternoon.
The players had a curtailed practice match among themselves at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in the afternoon and head coach De Kruif expressed his optimism about the team.
“My impression of the players is that they are okay. The league ended about 10-12 days ago and I have good hope that the players are fit enough. We know the task we will have at the Asian Games is tough because the best teams are playing and we don't know anything about the opponents,” said De kruif.
The Dutch coach, who returned to Bangladesh along with assistant coach Rene Koster after spending four months of imposed vacation in Netherlands, said he asked the BFF high-ups to arrange for a few practice matches abroad as part of their build-up for the Asian Games.
“Our fellow countries around us started their preparation three or four weeks ago, so we are little bit behind. But I'm happy to go to the BKSP and select the boys so that we can work there. I have requested the president and the vice president to let the boys go outside the country, like Doha or Thailand, to play one or two international games. They promised to work on it. It is best when you play at a good level,” De Kruif said.
The team, along with the new recruits and the two coaches, went to Savar in the evening where they will train for the next 40 days before leaving for Korea on September 12 with a 20-member side. The football event of the Asian Games will begin on September 16. The groupings have not been decided yet.