Draw delights Ilievski
Macedonian coach Nikola Ilievski is seemingly becoming more optimistic about his charges' chances at the SAFF Championship after the national team played out a 1-1 draw against the Foreign XI in a practice match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Former captain Zahid Hasan Emily put the national team ahead in the 37th minute with a close-range tap in, being set up by midfielder Emon Babu from the right. However, like the previous match, the national team conceded the equaliser in the 58th minute, courtesy of a misunderstanding among the defenders inside the danger zone allowing Nigeria's Lucky to place the ball at the far post.
“I think I can make a good team now compared to the team that was given to me six months ago, as the players have been toiling hard to gain fitness and look to be in good touch,” said Nikola after the game against the Foreign XI, who defeated the national team 3-2 in their first match.
Once again the backline of the national team looked fragile and left-back Rezaul Karim, who generally plays as a centre-back, made a couple of mistakes allowing the opponents space to score. However, central defender Ariful Islam cleared the danger on both occasions.
Ilievski though believes there is not much to worry about the defence as he has the alternates to Reza and the problem will be solved as soon as Atiqur Rahman Meshu gets back to the camp after his club engagement in Nepal.
Rather, the coach said conceding the equaliser was the fault of goalkeeper Biplob Bhattacharjee, who was not in the ideal position when the opposition winger ran down the flank to whip in the cross for the striker.
Nikola, however, was a bit worried over his midfield and is apparently looking for a good combination as he has tried all the midfielders at his disposal during the game.
Nikola said he would try among Mamunul Islam, Emon Babu, Mezbabul Haq Manik, Abdul Baten Komol and Pranotosh Kumar in the tournament.
However, the 57-year-old coach was satisfied with the performance his boys put up against the Foreign XI yesterday.
Praising striker Emily, Nikola said that he was thinking of including Sheikh Jamal striker Touhidul Alam Sabuz in the national squad after talking to Sheikh Jamal coach Safiul Bari Titu.
Sabuz was not in the 26-member preliminary squad for the SAFF Championship and is currently playing a tournament in Nepal for his club Sheik Jamal.