Receptions await victorious girls

Photo: Collected

"We enjoyed a lot last night after a lot of hard work… We danced together to celebrate the victory," Maria Manda told The Daily Star over phone from the breakfast table at the team hotel in Kathmandu on Tuesday morning, following their SAFF Championship final victory over Nepal the previous night.

Bangladesh's SAFF Women's Championship winning team will return home today at 1.50 pm. 

Photo: BFF

The government and Bangladesh Football Federation were preparing a homecoming for the champions featuring an open top bus that the players would ride from the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to the BFF House in Motijheel.

"It is fine even if we do not stand with the champions' trophy on the open-top bus, I want to win it for the people who have helped us touch the green grass, leaving aside the bitter comments of the society," Sanjida Akhter posted this status on her Facebook profile before the match against Nepal.

Photo: Collected

Since winning, there had been a demand from various quarters, starting from social media, to welcome the women's champion team from the airport on an open-top bus.

In response, Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC), the government's transport agency, prepared an open-top bus to welcome the victorious girls.

State minister for youth and sports, Zahid Ahsan Russel, has congratulated the team and promised to give a reception on the team's return. 

Photo: BFF

"We came back to the hotel dancing inside the bus," said an ecstatic Maria, who was one of main architects behind the historic triumph as she played tremendously well in the midfield to control every game along with her teammates and delivered the decisive passes for the forwards.

The Bangladesh players usually go to bed early after having dinner and wake up early for training but on Tuesday there was no such rule for the players. They spent an almost sleepless night to celebrate their greatest triumph before going to bed late at night.

Team manager Amirul Islam Babu informed that they have been receiving a lot of congratulatory messages from home.

Photo: BFF

"Soon after arriving at the hotel, we celebrated the victory by cutting a big cake and many came to the hotel to congratulate us," Babu told The Daily Star.

Later, they spent the day out shopping before going to a reception held at the Bangladesh high commission in Kathmandu on Tuesday evening.

Babu also informed that Bangladesh Olympic Association president and Army Chief General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed inquired about the women's team over phone and said that the team will be accorded a reception by Bangladesh Army after their return.

Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) president Kazi Salahuddin said he wants the victorious SAFF champions to give 60 per cent more effort in their endeavour to challenge at the Asian level. He said this during a press briefing at the BFF House on Tuesday, the day after the women's team clinched their maiden SAFF title by beating Nepal 3-1 in the final in Kathmandu.

Photo: BFF

Salahuddin said he wants the players to forget about the past and look towards the future with more determination.

"Once they come, I'll tell them that they've done extremely well to emerge as champions but to forget that and look forward. You will have to work harder to move forward because the others will try to surpass you. You will get gifts and monetary rewards. But you will have to go back to work after a few days of rest. Or else you will remain as one-time wonders," Salahuddin told reporters, adding that he had expected the success to come one or two years later, but felt the team fully deserved the success.