'I stay confident in front of goal'
Bangladesh can confirm a berth in the final of the SAFF U-20 Championship with a win against Nepal in their group final match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar today and underpinning their hopes will be forward Mirajul Islam.
The tournament's top-scorer so far with four goals despite muscular discomfort in his right thigh, Mirajul came off the bench and struck the lone goal against Sri Lanka in Bangladesh's opening match before slotting a sensational hattrick against Maldives in their third match.
Coupled with a win against India in their second game, Bangladesh are top of the table with nine points, three ahead of Nepal and India although either could catch Bangladesh by winning their respective matches.
To ensure a place in the final, Bangladesh require at least a result better than five-goal loss against Nepal and for India to beat Maldives in the day's second match.
Ahead of their final group match against Nepal, forward Mirajul said that they were fully focused while speaking to The Daily Star over phone from India yesterday.
"I'm not thinking of the pain in muscle. All the players are eager to complete the group stage with an all-win record and play the final," said the BFF Academy player, who hogged the limelight by scoring 10 goals in 11 Bangladesh Championship League matches before switching to the top-tier for the Bangladesh Premier League's second phase for Mohammedan.
Having explained their philosophy of improving match by match, he added: "I think all the players in the squad are good players and also good in their respective positions. They are motivated to give their best on the field.
"There are 12 players from the BFF Academy so they have good understanding. That helps us perform well. Besides, we have also trained in how to play international matches during a one-month training programme ahead of the SAFF Championship," the grade-10 student from Jhalakathi added.
Although Mirajul could not get any goals for Mohammedan in the three matches when he came on as a substitute, the BKSP student is showed his goal-scoring prowess in the ongoing SAFF Championship. But he attributed that success to his teammates.
"The goals I scored were because of my teammates, who helped me score. Those were outcomes of combined efforts," Mirajul said. "I always remain focused on finishing from inside the box. I also stay confident of scoring if I get space and the chance to muster a shot from inside the box."
The promising striker was also unconcerned with his future, focused only on the task of bringing the trophy home.
"As I am representing Bangladesh for the first time, I want to be a part of a team of champions. I am not thinking of the future because time will settle my destination," the teenage forward concluded.