A wish granted
When Lionel Messi and his Argentina came here four years ago, fans in their thousands greeted the superstar and his team at the Shahjalal International Airport. There was an even bigger crowd that waved at the Argentina team bus as it moved down the airport road to the team hotel.
On Monday night another high-profile team (not as popular as Argentina) arrived in Dhaka to play their World Cup qualifiers against Bangladesh. But the Socceroos got a completely different kind of reception in their maiden visit to Dhaka. They were whisked off from the airport to the Westin Hotel in Gulshan, with the security personnel making every effort to clear the five-odd kilometer road, so that no one could even get the slightest clue of what was happening, let alone any football fan waving at them. The scenario at the Westin Hotel last night gave someone the impression that the country was having a never-seen-before security drill in and around that hotel.
Amidst that blanket security provided by SWAT, the Socceroos disembarked from the team bus and entered the hotel. However, a few players, who looked curious about all those activities happening around them, took pictures while sitting in the bus. Interestingly though it was the kind of security and a total detachment from adoring fans, a taste of which the Socceroos are expected to experience at the Bangabandhu National Stadium today, they had probably wished for and granted. There was also a brief press briefing at the hotel at around 10pm where Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou said that the players remained focused for their match against Bangladesh despite security concerns.
"From our perspective it was a long trip from Australia, and it was good to break it up. We're looking forward to the conditions tomorrow [today] whatever they are and it's always a challenge when you play away from home. We understand tomorrow there will be two goals and grass on the ground and we'll play our game. So there's no surprises," said Postecoglu on security and not getting to know the conditions.
"One of the joys of playing for the Australian national team is that you go and play in all sorts of places and circumstances. Tomorrow [today] is something new as we haven't played here before. We don't want to let that upset anything or anyone like that. We'll do everything we can to try not to make the conditions a big deal," added Australia captain Mile Jedinak.