Bangladesh are determined to regain the title of the SAFF U-15 Championship when they embrace the final challenge in the form of Pakistan in Kathmandu today. The final will kick off at 2:45pm (BST) at the ANFA Complex ground.
Even though Bangladesh went into the regional age-group championship with the simple target of reaching the semifinals, a stage they had crossed only once previously, they have already gone beyond their expectations by reaching the final in the fifth edition with an unbeaten record. The boys in red and green are a win away from regain the title of the championship, which was originally an under-16 tournament in the first three editions.
The charges of Mostafa Anwar Parvez Babu are upbeat ahead of facing an impressive Pakistan side, which came into the tournament after skipping the previous two editions in 2015 and 2017, but stunned all to reach the final for the first time since winning the inaugural edition in 2011.
The way they fought back against India in the semifinal has been a big inspiration for the boys in red and green but they do not want to dwell on the previous achievements, rather they are focused on the final.
“As tomorrow's final is the most important game, we want to win it at any cost. We have reached this stage with wins over Maldives, Nepal and India, but we don't want to look at back; rather we want to be more focused on the final against Pakistan, who are strong opponents,” said captain Mahedi Hasan, who feels that Bangladesh are no less stronger.
Pakistan started their campaign with a 2-1 over India in the group stages before thrashing Bhutan and Nepal by 4-0 margins to reach the final. The champions of the first edition are being considered favourites going into the final this time.
“Pakistan will play their game and we will play our game. We will try to apply what we have learned in the last two months and if we can apply it properly, we can beat Pakistan,” said Mahedi.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, started their campaign with a 9-0 thrashing of Maldives before notching a hard-fought 2-1 win over Nepal in group's last match. They also showed character in the semifinal to equalise in stoppage time before beating India 4-2 in penalty shootout.
“The boys really worked hard to qualify for the final as they executed game plan properly in previous matches. They are upbeat about giving their hundred per cent against Pakistan, especially after the way they bounced back against India in the semifinal. We will go there for victory,” said the Bangladesh coach.
“Pakistan are ahead of Bangladesh physically, but we can fight against them as we have already identified Pakistan's strong and weak points and instructed the players accordingly,” added the coach.