Bangladesh football team's English coach Jamie Day might have had success with the U-23 team in the Asian Games and the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers, but his real test with the senior team awaits in June's pre-qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup.
In the quest to overcome that challenge, the 39-year-old coach wants only a 10-day preparation camp for the national football team before facing the opponents on a home-and-away basis. The pre-qualifiers will determine which six teams among the 12 bottom-ranked sides to progress to the 40-team second round of the joint qualifiers for the Qatar World Cup and Asian Cup.
The Bangladesh senior side avoided the pre-qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Asian Cup due to a better FIFA Ranking in Asia but this time Bangladesh, who are currently ranked 192 in the world and 42 in Asia, have to play the pre-qualifiers against potentially tough opposition -- any one of Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos or Macau -- as an unseeded side.
“We don't need anything different. We need a maximum 10-day training camp with a couple of practice matches before the games,” said Jamie at a press briefing at the BFF House yesterday, following the U-23 team's return from Bahrain after the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers.
“10 days is good enough because training for too long may have a negative impact. So, we need only 10 days' training before playing the pre-qualifiers. Four weeks or more would not change their fitness level, especially since the senior players have been in action for the last 10 months without rest. So, anything more than 10 days may cause fatigue and we have to look at that,” Jamie explained.
If Bangladesh fail to overcome the pre-qualifier hurdles, the men in red and green may have no FIFA/AFC matches in the next four years. However, Jamie seemed confident that his 10-day camp would be beneficial.
“Bangladesh is not a team that does anything easily. We want to be in Pot-1 [during the pre-qualifier draws] but regardless, we will handle each situation as it comes. We know that if we face someone like Malaysia or Singapore, it will be a tough task but we beat teams like Bhutan and Laos. So, I think the Bangladesh national team and the U-23 team are confident as we have already shown, because we are a well-drilled team. I think whoever the boys play against, they are going to play with the confidence and belief that we can win,” said Jamie, who guided the U-23s to the second round of Asian Games for the first time and also coached them to their maiden win in AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers history.
Because of the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League -- which has just completed the 10th of 26 rounds -- Jamie Day would not have gotten more than a 10-day camp even if he wished for it. The clubs don't want to lengthen the league as they have already sat idle for a month because of the U-23 and national team engagements.
“You also know the league is going on and the national team will be involved in international matches on the back of a short period of preparation. We have to accept the reality and have to play the matches. We are aware of it and the necessary steps will be taken,” said national teams committee member and national team manager Satyajit Das Rupu.
However, to ensure the services of Jamie Day and his assistant Stuart Watkiss, the game's governing body has to renew their contracts which will come to an end in May. Both were hopeful of getting new contracts on the eve of their departure to England today.