Under-19s to solve striker crisis?
Even though scoring goals has long been a cause for concern for the national football team, the under-19 team is expected to be boosted by the find of a few promising strikers ahead of the SAFF U-19 Championship in August and AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers in September.
Mannaf Rabbi, Shitol Rohit, and Rakib – all of the under-19 level -- are thought to be of high quality, with the former two already playing in the Bangladesh Premier League while the latter two belonging to the Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protisthan (BKSP) and the BFF Academy in Sylhet.
“No doubt there are some talented players in the under-19 squad called for the upcoming international engagements. They have not proven at the highest level due to lack of opportunity, but they do get a chance in the playing eleven in competitive games, we can expect someone like Hemanta Vincent Biswas (who emerged from the U-19 team) to emerge,” said Saiful Bari Titu, the head coach of the U-19 national team.
Titu has picked a 31-memebr preliminary with players from the BKSP, the BFF Academy and the professional clubs.
“Our philosophy is to follow the formation and style of the senior team and I have been doing so. But I will not be afraid to play in 4-4-2 formation in the upcoming tournaments, if I get quality strikers,” said Titu adding that he has been providing necessary information to his strikers.
The game's governing body has been emphasising on the under-19 team, keeping their eyes on the final round of the AFC U-19 Championship as well as to use the under-19 team as the pipeline for the senior teams.
“I have been training with 20 to 22 players because the rest of the players are engaged with the Bangladesh Premier League. The boys of the camp have been improving day by day but the strength of the team will be increased once the players from the premier league join them,” believes the former national footballer.
In the last edition AFC under-19 qualifiers, two national team players – Sohel Rana and Toklish Ahmed – participated while Hemanta Vincent Biswas made it straight into the national team after captaining that side in Iraq in 2013. However, this time there is no such national player in the under-19 squad, but there are eight to nine players, who have been playing top-flight football.
Before realising the dream of qualifying for the AFC U-19 final round, the charges of Titu will get an opportunity to test themselves against their subcontinent rivals in the SAFF U-19 Championship which will get underway from August 20 in Nepal. The coach is hopeful of producing good results in both the tournaments.