Bangladesh ready for 'memorable achievement'
It was raining heavily at the KFA football Stadium but Bangladesh team kept their focus in training yesterday, on the eve of their Bhutan fixture in Bengaluru.
With head coach Javier Cabrera instructing from the center of the artificial turf, the booters tried to execute game plans before they went for set-piece drills.
After a one-hour training, Bangladesh players and coaching staff left out field with smiles on their faces.
It remains to be seen whether they would be able to keep those smiles intact as Bangladesh are on the verge of qualifying for the semifinals of SAFF Championship for the first time in 14 years.
However, the equation may become complex if Maldives beat Lebanon in today's first match and Bangladesh go on to win against Bhutan. In that case, three teams will have equal six points, bringing head-to-head, goal difference and goals scored into play.
Despite a superior head-to-head record against Bhutan, they are "not going to be an easy opponent," said Anisur Rahman Zico, reflecting on their lone defeat during 2016 Asian Cup Pre-qualifiers.
"We were so close to get out the group stage in last two editions of SAFF Championship but we could not do it (progress). It will be a memorable achievement if we can repeat our Maldives display," said Zico, who was also part of 2021 SAFF Championship in Male -- where Bangladesh needed a victory over Nepal but they threw away a lead to play out a 1-1 draw.
Defender Tapu Barman also echoed similar sentiment.
"If Maldives lose to Lebanon in first match, we need a draw to qualify for the semifinals. The most important thing is that we are not going to lose the motivation we gained from the Maldives match," said the central defender.
Javier Cabrera said "there is very positive atmosphere in the camp".
"We have a good mix of young and experienced players. Many of our players have experience of 2021 SAFF Championship. We depend on ourselves rather thinking what happened in 2021 or before," said Cabrera.
Center-back Tariq Raihan Kazi is set to miss the match against Bhutan and Cabrera is likely to field two changes in the squad that beat Maldives 3-1.