Football has not had much of a following even over the past year, but the scenario in Bangladesh has changed drastically in recent times. What was once the fans’ game of choice has again started capturing their attention, especially after the national team’s scintillating performances against Qatar and India in the joint qualifiers of World Cup and Asian Cup. Although Bangladesh are still bottom in the five-team table, with only one point from three outings, there have been a lot of changes, most significantly to their mentality, under coach Jamie Day. Expectations are also running high before the tough match against Oman and Saiful Bari Titu, one of the country’s top coaches, analysed the different aspects of both sides ahead of today’s tie.
OMAN’S STRONG POINTS: Oman will have the home advantage along with their height advantage. Another plus is that they are good tactically and technically. They also have a big advantage in taking chances because they are good at finishing. Their striking duo of Abdul Aziz Al Muqbali and Arshad Al Alawi have combined for five goals in their last three matches.
BANGLADESH’S STRONG POINTS: Bangladesh’s strongest aspect is the way they played in the past two matches. The performance against India definitely boosted their confidence but it is important to not be overconfident. Bangladesh have nothing to lose. Instead, the boys should have the strong mentality that they can secure points. The team has already developed a good mentality and are not afraid of anyone. It is now a changed national team, which is really different compared to previous national teams.
OMAN’S WEAK POINTS: Oman have only one weak point, which is their high line. Bangladesh will get spaces behind their defence and have to exploit them when they get opportunities on the counter. India also showed that the proper planning from set pieces could earn a goal against Oman. That is another weak point.
BANGLADESH’S WEAK POINTS: The weakest point is conceding goals at the last moment. Oman are good from set pieces, so Bangladesh have to ensure good marking. The finishing of Bangladesh’s forwards is also poor. They should have taken a 2-0 lead against India but poor finishing deprived them of a victory. So, the boys must not squander the opportunities they get in counter.
OMAN’S STYLE OF PLAY: Oman generally play high-pressing football in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Sometime they switch to a 4-4-2. Oman build up attacks from the flanks and their wingers are good enough to whip in well-judged crosses. Four to five players, including the holding midfielder, join their attacks and puzzle opposing defences and they are even more devastating than Bangladesh on the counter attack.
BANGLADESH’S STYLE OF PLAY: Bangladesh also play the same formation, 4-2-3-1, and sometimes switch to a 4-1-4-1 with Nabib Newaj Jibon up front. Bangladesh defend the opponents in their own half and they now have cohesive team defending as the right back and right winger and left-back and left winger play in partnerships. Bangladesh’s 4-1-4-1 also gives them the numerical advantage over Oman’s three-man midfield. Bangladesh can easily stop their playmaker, Mobarak.
PREDICTION: Oman are clear favourites on their home ground and ahead of Bangladesh in terms of strength and FIFA ranking. If Bangladesh want to return home with points, they must avoid any unforced errors in the match and give maximum effort. Most of all, the boys must believe in themselves. However, they have to avoid conceding early goals.