The Bangladesh national football team will leave for Phnom Penh, Cambodia today to play a FIFA friendly match against the hosts. The match, slated for March 9, is the first international fixture for the boys in red and green since they faced Palestine in the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in Cox's Bazar last October.
Having picked a 23-member squad, with the exclusion of veteran Mamunul Islam and three others, English coach Jamie Day is looking forward to producing a good performance against Cambodia, who are 20 placed ahead of Bangladesh (192) in FIFA rankings. Day will also use this opportunity to scrutinise the Under-23 team members in the squad ahead of this month's AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers in Bahrain.
“I'm looking forward to the fixture against Cambodia and a good performance from the boys, which I think will help them in the upcoming U-23 tournament which has also a couple of tough matches against Bahrain and Palestine.
“First, I want good performances from the starting eleven because it is a very exciting and important match for Bangladesh. As it is an international fixture, we really want to put up a good performance to keep ourselves on the tract to avail the next FIFA window in June. We will try our best to win the match against Cambodia,” said Day at a press conference at the BFF House yesterday.
Although Day's charges did not get an opportunity to practice together ahead of today's departure, the booters will get at least two days to figure out the game plan before facing Cambodia, a team they have not yet lost to in three meetings.
It may be said that Bangladesh will go up against Cambodia with a lack of preparation but the fact remains that they have been in action since November, participating in the Federation Cup, Independence Cup and at least nine matches of the Bangladesh Premier League. Aside from that, it is practically the same squad which featured in the Asian Games, SAFF Championship and Bangabandhu Gold Cup. Therefore, Jamie should not have to toil hard to have his charges adapt to the game plan.
While it has been puzzling as to why Bangladesh almost always travels abroad with what seems to be toothless attackers, the good news is that this time at least two strikers -- Nabib Newaj Jibon and Matin Mia -- have been in good form.
After the booters return on March 10, the U-23 team will leave for Qatar for a 10-day training camp the following day. The national U-23 team will then head to Bahrain from Doha to participate in the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers, billed for March 22 to 26.