Putting the frustrating campaign of their last campaign behind, Bangladesh are looking forward to a fresh start when they take on Afghanistan in their opening match of the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers at the Central Republic Stadium Dushanbe, Tajikistan today.
The match gets underway at 8:00pm (Bangladesh time), with private satellite channel Bangla TV transmitting the match live.
Bangladesh had ended the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Asian Cup Qualifiers on a disappointing note after losing seven out of their eight matches of the five-team group, conceding 32 goals and finishing on bottom with only one point.
Since a humiliating 8-0 drubbing at the hands of Jordan in their last qualifying match some three-and-a-half years ago, Bangladesh have gone through a bit of change over the last one-and-a-half years under the guidance of Jamie Day, who has blooded younger players who have good fitness and speed with intense fighting attitude till the last minute.
The team started their preparation with a new hope since they were pitted against neighbours India, Afghanistan along with mighty Qatar and Oman in Group E. And the moment has finally arrived for the men in red and green to prove a point against Afghanistan, who outclassed Bangladesh 4-0 in their last meeting during the 2015 SAFF Championship, but suffered a 6-0 defeat against Qatar five days ago.
“All we can do is give our best in every game and try to give each opposition a tough match. We are the lowest ranked side in the group and big underdog. As I have said before it will be a great experience for our younger players to take and use in future competitions,” said Day, who makes his debut in guiding a national side in the World Cup Qualifiers.
Day sees a possibility to get points against Afghanistan, but his charges have to give their best against a side comprising of Europe-based players and technically gifted ones.
“Everyone is excited about tomorrow’s game because we know we have a chance to get points. Everyone will need to play at their best if we are to achieve a positive result against Afghanistan. We can still play fantastic football and lose, that’s football, so as well as we perform to the best of our ability, I can’t ask for more from the team,” said the 39-eyar-old tactician.
The Englishman is aware of the quality of the opposition and he feels the players must concentrate on defending well and avail the chances against Afghanistan.
Day’s counterpart Anoush Dastgir is optimistic about notching a win over Bangladesh following a two-day preparation since the defeat to Qatar.
“We lost against a team who are Asian champions. If we play 50 times against Qatar, maybe we can draw once. We have to be realistic on that but Bangladesh game will be a different game, different system and style. We know Bangladesh prepared well but it’s a game we have to win and we are prepared as well,” said 29-year-old Dastgir, who was a playing member during the 2015 SAFF Championship.