The Bangladesh national football team will take on Cambodia in a FIFA friendly in Phnom Penh today as the men in red and green get back to international duty for the first time since October last year.
The match will kick off at 5:30pm Bangladesh time at the Phnom Penh National Olympic Stadium.
Coach Jamie Day is upbeat about coming out with a positive result from this match as Bangladesh have never lost against this Southeast Asian nation. In three meetings at the international level, Bangladesh, ranked 192nd by FIFA, have won twice against 172nd-ranked Cambodia while the other match ended in a draw.
“We are looking forward to the match tomorrow, which will be a tough one,” Day said in reply to a question yesterday.
“We're looking forward to a good team performance. The main objective is to play well; hopefully we can win as well. We want to win and earn some ranking points,” the English coach added.
While Bangladesh have only had two days of preparation for this fixture after coming to Cambodia, the booters did not have any preparation at home as they flew straight over after the completion of the 10th round of the Bangladesh Premier League.
Team captain Jamal Bhuiyan saw this as a good thing for the team. “Expectations [for this match] are high because we are playing against a national team after a long time. Everybody's looking forward to it. Everyone is fit as the league is currently ongoing, which is an advantage. Overall the team is in good shape and we will take the challenge very seriously,” the captain said during the official pre-match press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Although some people have said the hot and humid conditions in Phnom Penh might be an issue for the Bangladesh players, the 28-year-old midfielder thought the weather was comfortable, rather the issue might lie elsewhere. “The weather is similar to summer in Bangladesh. We'll play in the evening, so it won't be an issue. The issue might be the astro-turf which might make it a bit difficult for us.”
The fact that the Bangladesh team went to Cambodia without any preparation lies with the thinking that this friendly is more of a match practice ahead of the under-23 team's participation in the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers. The coach saw this match as an opportunity for the youngsters to have some match practice ahead of that campaign later this month.
“I hope some of the younger lads gain some more national team experience from this match,” Day said yesterday.
The day after the booters return home on March 10, the under-23 team will leave for Qatar for a 10-day training camp. The under-23 team will then head to Bahrain from Doha to participate in the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers, billed for March 22 to 26 where they will play against Bahrain, Palestine and Sri Lanka in Group B.