Coach Andrew Ord has expressed his disappointment and shock at the fitness levels of footballers plying their trade in the Bangladesh Premier League during the trial for the U-23 squad for the upcoming AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers.
“I was surprised to see the lack of fitness of the players in the trial. Whatever the reasons and explanations, the players are not fit. We need to train hard with lot of intensity,” Ord said during the announcement of the 36-member preliminary squad at a press conference at the BFF House yesterday.
Out of the 36 players, 27 are from five big-spending clubs – Dhaka Abahani, Chittagong Abahani, Sheikh Jamal DC, Sheikh Russel KC and Saif Sporting Club, who started their pre-season camp almost three months ago before participating in last month's Federation Cup.
The other nine players are from three other clubs – Mohammedan SC, Muktijoddha Sangsad and Arambagh KS, who began their preparations just before the start of the Federation Cup.
It is indeed surprising to find the immense lack of fitness among footballers, especially of those who started their pre-season preparation long ago. In addition, some of the selected players even had a two-week camp on fitness and conditioning in early February under fitness trainer John Whittle, but surprisingly they too still lack fitness.
The Australian coach, however, wants to keep faith on the young players in the qualifiers which are scheduled to take place from July 19 to 23 in Palestine, even if he has no high expectation from the team for this tournament.
“We have got to be organised. We need to make sure that we are solid at the base. They [opponents] are strong. We just have to get fit, organised and gather some spirit. We have to improve and build from here and get some experience,” said Ord, who believes he is unlike other other coaches as he has to remain involved with the under-16 and under-19 teams too.
“Young players are good here. I am sure I will find good ones as long I am here. I promised to the [BFF] president I will work hard with the younger players,” said Ord.
Even though Ord ran a five-day trial at Kamalapur Stadium, he is still eager to study all the players of the preliminary squad in another five-day trial, which will start at BKSP from today, as some of the players, who had failed to turn up at the earlier trial, have been kept in the squad.