With scoring always being a cause for concern for the national team, there is now the additional worry in defence ahead of their Bangabandhu Gold Cup’s semifinal clash against Burundi as the charges of Jamie Day will be without experienced centre-backs Tapu Barman and Yeasin Khan.
The coach had picked four centre-backs including Tapu, Yeasin along with young Tutul Hossain Badsha and Riyadul Hasan, but only Riyadul will be available for the semifinal as Badsha and Yeasin left the squad with fever while Tapu faces one-match suspension for seeing a red card against Sri Lanka.
The absence of three centre-backs will put Bangladesh in deep trouble against Burundi, who have one of the best attacking forces as they have scored seven goals in two group matches against Mauritius and Seychelles.
But Day, during training yesterday, instead of thinking too much of his own defence, was more focused on how to unsettle the Burundi defence with quick moves to get goals.
After releasing the ball from the centre area, Day shouted one, two, three, four and shot on the target as play was built up through the wings and the forwards finished every move with shots on target.
Three goals against Sri Lanka in the final group match might have given the home side some confidence, but the defence will have to play a key role to ensure the final berth of the tournament after five years. Riyadul is fully confident of taking the responsibility on his shoulders.
“The absence of Tapu and Yeasin bhai is not a worry for us, rather it is challenge for ones who are going to play against Burundi. I am ready to take the responsibility to lead the defence,” Riyadul said. “The difference between the national team players is little, so the absence of anyone can hardly be felt but the absence of Tapu bhai and Yeasin bhai is quite something. I think Rahmat Mia and Bishwanath Ghosh are also playing regularly, so we will not face much trouble.”
Following injury to Badsha, Riyadul was given the chance to play alongside Yeasin in the two-match series against Bhutan last September, and the Saif SC defender passed those tests successfully to get chances against Qatar and India in the World Cup Qualifiers in October. The defender impressed all in both games with whole-hearted performances.
“Burundi like to play directly with long ball. Our defenders will try to not concede any goal and keep the slate clean. I know I have more responsibility in absence of two senior players,” said Riyadul.
After missing the match against Sri Lanka due to pain on upper side of his left knee, skipper Jamal Bhuiyan yesterday had full training. He was not too worried about the defence.
“Burundi have a strong attacking line-up and they are also physically stronger than us. The coach will see who will be suitable in place of Tapu, who was a vital player for us. We have Raihan Hasan and Manjurur Rahman Manik in reserve,” said Jamal.
“We had a training on quick attacks as Burundi players do not run back and their defence is not organised either. If we play like this, we can penetrate them,” Jamal said. “I think if we can score first, we can hold the lead because we have the capability of doing that.”