Booters in Perth
The Bangladesh national football team reached Perth yesterday ahead of their World Cup qualifying fixture against the Socceroos on September 3, with a much-needed boost of confidence from holding Malaysia to a goalless draw on the previous night.
This is the first time that Bangladesh, 170th in the latest FIFA rankings, will be taking on the four-time World Cuppers Australia, who sit 109 places above them. However daunting the challenge might be, the men in red and green are not yet getting overwhelmed and are looking to take inspiration from their stubborn display against the Malaysians.
Goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel, the man who played the key role in staving off the Malaysian challenge, credited the work done by goalkeeping coach Christian Schweichler for his improved performance.
“Our goalkeeper coach (Schweichler) worked hard with all the goalkeepers and my performance was the outcome of that hard work,” Sohel told reporters on the eve of the team's departure for Perth yesterday morning.
“We know Australia are a much stronger team (than Malaysia), so we will have to do even better and give our hundred per cent against them in Perth,” added Sohel.
While Sohel was arguably the best player on the pitch, the defence line was also pretty compact and thwarted a number of attacks from the Malaysians. Right-back Nasirul Islam feels the Malaysia friendly will give them enough confidence.
“The match against Malaysia was challenging and our target was not to concede defeat. We tried to produce a good result, which we achieved and hopefully that will help us perform even better against Australia,” said Nasirul.
Midfielder Jamal Bhuiyan felt the match gave the team the opportunity to gel as a unit as some of the players had been out of action for a few months.
“Some of our players hadn't played for two or three months. So it was good to get to improve the understanding before the match against Australia. We played well but we know Australia are a much stronger side, so we will have to be prepared to face them,” said Jamal.
Bangladesh team had a light warm-up session at the Langley Park after being accorded a reception at the airport by the Bangladesh Welfare Association of Perth.
Meanwhile, the Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou has been forced to reshuffle his pack after three key players -- skipper Mile Jedinak, Tomi Juric and Robbie Kruse -- withdrew through injury. The trio have been replaced by young Lazio attacker Chris Ikonomidis, Heidenheim striker Ben Halloran and Brisbane Roar midfielder Luke Brattan.
After the September 3 fixture, Bangladesh team will return home and entertain Jordan on September 8 while the Socceroos will take on Tajikistan on the same day.