Bangladesh Premier League champions Bashundhara Kings will start their pre-season campaign looking to add to their double when they take on Gokulam Kerala of India in a Group B fixture at the MA Aziz Stadium in Chattogram today.
The second match of the day will kick off at 7:00pm following the game between Chennai City FC and Terengganu FC at 4:00pm.
Bashundhara Kings, in their debut season in top-flight football, won the Bangladesh Premier League and the Independence Cup, and coach Oscar Bruzon is looking to build on the success with what he feels a more balanced squad.
“Last year we were having some problems as we didn’t have lot balance in the squad. There was little bit difference between best players and worst players. But this year is the opposite scenario. This year we have all good players in our squad,” the Spanish coach told reporters after his team’s training session at the Port Stadium ground yesterday morning.
The new powerhouse of Bangladesh football currently boasts 10 national players from the most recent squad alongside Topu Barman, Atiqur Rahman Fahad and Mashuk Mia Johnny who are recovering from injuries. The team definitely is stronger as far as local players are concerned, but the coach feels the foreign collection is also much stronger than last season.
“We got Kingsley from BJMC because we like him. Then we have Daniel (Colindres) and Bakhtiyar (Duyshobekov) who are ready now and left a lot last season. We have one new addition, Jalal (Lebanese striker Jalal Kudoh). He is gonna be a sensation, not only in this tournament but also throughout the season. I hope in 3-4 months all of you will recognise Jalal is the best striker in the country,” the coach said.
While Bruzon was hopeful that his side could start the pre-season on a high, he was respectful of his opening-match opponents Gokulam Kerala, who won the prestigious Durand Cup two months ago after finishing ninth in I-League last season.
“They are the recent winners of Durand Cup beating teams like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in the semifinal and final. Gokulam Kerala is going to be tough rival,” Bruzon said.
Gokulam may, however, not be well prepared for this tournament, taking the field after having arrived only on Sunday and playing without an official practice session here.
Meanwhile, the day’s other match pits defending I-League champions Chennai City FC against Terengganu FC of Malaysia.
Like Mohun Bagan, Chennai City FC boast a host of Spanish players, but they are taking the field after only one practice session following their arrival on Sunday. Terengganu FC, on the other hand, cane to Chattogram three days ago.