Suffering a heavy defeat against Nepal is not a first-time experience for the Bangladesh national women's team; they even tasted wider-margin defeats in recent past compared to the one they suffered during the ongoing SAFF Women's Championship on Saturday.
The 3-0 defeat was thought to have broken the morale of the young ladies as it made them face the daunting prospect of being pitted against four-time champions India in the semifinals. But the reality is the Bangladeshi women are not at all shattered, on the contrary, they are looking to learn from the mistakes.
Asked whether she had a good sleep after the defeat against Nepal, midfielder Monica Chakma's reply summed up the sentiment of the whole team: “Why not? I had a sound sleep because defeat is part of the game. We are not thinking much about the Nepal defeat even though there was a little bit disappointment because of the mistakes we made against those experienced players.”
“We have learnt a lot from the last match. We want to show you better football by rectifying the mistakes we made against Nepal. As it is a semifinal match, we will definitely try to win against India,” said a confident Monica, who is a key midfielder for Bangladesh in the under-16, the under-19 and the senior team.
As many as nine under-16 players including Monica, goalkeeper Rupna Chakma, Maria Manda, Akhi Khatun, Shamsunnahar are part of the senior team. Qualifying for the final round of the AFC U-16 Championship last month was evidence of how strong they are mentally at age-level competitions as these same players had suffered some big defeats during the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers and Tokyo Olympic Qualifiers last September and November respectively.
The players boosted themselves during the half-time break of the Bangladesh-Nepal match and showed character in the second half by not conceding any more goals.
“Everybody was down after the first half but the players exchanged their views among themselves in interval. We told them that the first half is over and now focus on the second half. We brought some tactical changes and the team played well in the second half. The reflection of discuss was on the performance. Now we are looking forward to the semifinals and we extremely confident that the young girls will perform well against India,” said the team's technical adviser Paul Smalley at the team hotel yesterday.
Although India have never lost any match in the history of SAFF Women's Championship, Smalley believes they would be less tougher than Nepal, who have game-changing players like Sabitra Bhandari and Niru Thapa.
But the experience may be a decisive factor in this match.
“Our players are young and inexperienced at senior level and they are coming from different age groups but India and Nepal senior teams are very good with their players gathering experience at senior level competitions. It is a chance for us to cope up with them. Except for enforced errors in first 25 minutes of the Nepal match, we dealt with Nepal very well in the second half and created real chances. So, we are looking ahead to playing against another better side in the semifinal,” said the UEFA Pro-licensed coach.