Bangladesh national hockey team's biggest fear ahead of the Asian Games Qualifiers is the lack of confidence as they will be feeling the absence of four stalwarts who have been suspended after their dismal performance in the Asia Cup last year.
To make up the void of suspended goalkeeper Zahid Hossain, defender Imran Hasan Pintoo, midfielder Qumruzzaman Rana and forward Rasel Mahmud Jimmy as well as exclusion of experienced defender Moshiur Rahman Biplob due to injury, the selection committee of Bangladesh Hockey Federation has drafted in fresh blood and is banking on team spirit and fitness of the players to achieve the goal of becoming champions in the eight-nation qualifiers.
“Technically (fitness) and physically we are ahead of all the other opponents but we fear of a mental breakdown of the players. If the players think about the four suspended players, we may face trouble but there will be no problem if they pay no heed to their absence,” said selector Mamunur Rashid.
During the Asia Cup last year, Bangladesh's midfield hardly worked effectively and big gaps among defence, midfield and forward line was seen in all the matches except for the last match against Chinese Taipei.
This time Mamunur is optimistic with the return of experienced Sheikh Mohammad Nannu and promising Sarwar Hossain in the midfield and believes the presence of them will reduce the gap between the three departments.
“Our main strength is that all the players have been in action for the last four months and the fitness level is much better compared to Asia Cup. Besides, a good cohesion among the players appeared in the last 20 days of training,” said the former national player adding that the only lacking is of not taking part in any practice matches before the tournament.
Mamunur however believes that becoming champions would not be an easy task as Oman, who beat Bangladesh in the Asia Cup, have been training in Europe for the last three months and Singapore are coming here after participating in the ASEAN Games while Sri Lanka are always a tough side to beat.
Bangladesh are grouped in Pool B along with Singapore, Hong Kong and Iran while Pool A consists of Oman, Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei and Qatar.