The Bangladesh U-15 football team are all set to depart for India today to take part in the SAFF U-15 Championship, where they will look to defend the tittle they earned by beating Pakistan in last edition’s final in Nepal.
The boys in red and green will begin their campaign with a match against Bhutan on August 23 after the five-nation championship kicks off on August 21 at the Kalyani Stadium in Nadia district of West Bengal.
Bangladesh underwent four months of preparation for the championship. Initially, 34 players trained under local coaches at the BFF-Fortis Football Academy in Beraid, Badda before British coach Robert Martin Ryles took over midway through June.
This is the first time that the boys in red and green will play under the supervision of a foreign coach, however, it should be mentioned that local coaches delivered two titles from the regional age-level championship in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
“It was a positive experience in Fortis with excellent facility and environments. We focused hard in developing physical, technical and other aspects of the players who gave everything we asked for in the training. The boys showed resilience and improved their game day by day,” Ryles told reporters at the press conference at the Bangladesh Football Federation house yesterday.
Ryles also informed that they played a number of practice matches against youth sides of the premier league clubs and the older groups of academy players to sharpen their skills.
“Our target is to defend the title which our senior brothers earned last year,” said midfielder Rakibul Islam.
The tournament initially began as the SAFF U-16 Championship before it was turned into the SAFF U-15 Championship last year to be a part of the teams’ preparation for the AFC U-16 Championship in line with AFC prescription. Pakistan was first to win the inaugural title before Bangladesh (2015 and 2018) and India (2013 and 2017) shared the other four titles.