Bangladesh women’s football got popularity through a generation comprising players such as Maria Manda, Monica Chakma, Akhi Khatun and Tahura Khatun, but those players are now beyond the under-15 level. Hence the onus is on the new generation of players to maintain the image of country’s women’s football in the upcoming SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship.
The third edition of the regional age-group championship is scheduled to kick off in Thimphu, Bhutan on October 9, with the Bangladesh team set to leave this afternoon with the hope of taking forward the pride earned by their previous generation.
Bangladesh became champions in the inaugural edition in Dhaka two years ago, but they had to be satisfied with a second-place finish in the second edition last year after losing to eventual champions India in the final.
This time the girls in red and green are targeting to regain the title of the four-team event, which will be in round-robin format for the first time. The top two teams will play in the final on October 15.
Coach Golam Rabbani Choton believes participating with fresh players is a new challenge for him, but his charges are ready for the test to be proud successors of Maria, Monica and Akhi.
“Every nation is taking women’s football seriously and conducting round-the-year training. It is a new challenge for me as well as the new players, most of whom have come through the JFA U-14 Girls’ tournament. But this group of players are more matured than the previous ones. There are some talented footballers in the side,” Choton said at a press conference at the BFF house yesterday.
The veteran coach informed that they have been nursing this group of players with the senior players since the completion of the second edition in 2018.
Out of the 23 members, only nine were part of last year’s squad while only goalkeeper Rupna Chakma and striker Shamsunnahar Jr played in the regular eleven. There are seven players who were part of BKSP women’s team which became champions in Subroto Cup in September this year.
“The girls, who are good technically and tactically, have worked hard in the training camp and we are aiming to play in the final and win the title even though the opponents are very strong,” said Choton.