Thailand-bound with development in mind
Bangladesh's Dutch coach Lodewijk de Kruif (L) speaks to the media while national skipper Mamunul Islam looks on at the BFF House yesterday, ahead of the team's departure for Thailand today to play two friendlies. PHOTO: STAR
A 31-member Bangladesh national football team will fly for Thailand today morning for an eight-day trip where they will have an isolated training camp, apart from playing two matches against the Thai national team. The contingent includes 24 players, coaching staff and officials. The schedule and venue of the matches will be finalised after the two team's coaches sit for a meeting later today, informed National Teams Committee members and head coach during a press conference at the BFF House yesterday.
Another thing which is uncertain is whether the Thai team, which beat Bangladesh 5-0 in a friendly match in November last year in Bangkok, will field its main side or a second-string side. But for coach Lodewijk de Kruif, the most important thing is to have a few days of good isolated camp and a couple of matches to test his charges' improvement.
“We will play two matches over there in Thailand. It's a big opportunity to train well in an isolated camp and focus on what will come in the future,” said de Kruif adding that his side's ultimate target is the SAFF Championship in Nepal.
“This period is to build up the energy level and physique of the players and cover every angle of football which is our main focus. I cannot deny that everybody wants to win but it is not the most important thing at the moment, the most important thing is the development and being ready to face the challenge in September.”
The Bangladesh team that will leave for Thailand with a 24-member squad will include Germany-based midfielder Reasat Khaton, as the coach feels that the player has not yet been fully tested.
The coach refused to discuss the tactics that he would employ during the Thailand tour or the SAFF Championship as he feels it might give an advantage to the opposition. The coach had a closed door mock practice match between the ranks at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in the afternoon, where fit-again striker Shakhawat Rony bagged a hattrick while Zahid Hasan Emily scored the other goal in the match.
National captain and midfielder Mamunul Islam, who was stand-in captain during the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers in Nepal earlier this year, said he was looking forward to a better performance from the team compared to the friendly match they played against Thailand last year.
“We will play good football over there [Thailand] because we have been in the game throughout the season without break. We have had a three-week preparation camp with the Dutch coaches and this tour is also a part of the preparation for the SAFF Championship where we want to win the silverware,” said Mamunul.
The Bangladesh team will return on August 5 before hosting Pakistan for a practice match on August 13. Pakistan will play another practice match against BFF XI on August 16 as a part of their SAFF preparation.