Midfielder Sohel Rana believes Bangladesh have the ability to beat Palestine, a side they have never beaten before. The midfielder said this following the national team’s first practice session yesterday ahead of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup, which will be held from January 15 to 25 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
Out of 23 members, 14 went through an hour-long training session at the Birshreshtha Shaheed Mostafa Kamal Stadium under assistant coach Stuart Watkiss as head coach Jamie Day is supposed to take over charge after landing in Dhaka yesterday noon.
Seven Bashundhara Kings players were scheduled to join the camp last night while captain Jamal Bhuiyan is set to join today. striker Nabib Newaj Jibon missed first day’s training due to illness.
“I believe we have the ability to beat Palestine,” Sohel said. “However, we all have to play well against them. We are confident that we will perform well.”
Bangladesh previously played four times against Palestine, eking out a 1-1 draw in inaugural AFC Challenge Cup in 2006 before suffering three consecutive defeats including the latest one in the semifinal of the last edition of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in Cox’s Bazar in 2018.
Bangladesh, who have been drawn alongside Palestine and Sri Lanka in Group A, will begin their campaign against Palestine on January 15.
“No doubt, Palestine are ahead of us but it is possible to post a win against them. In that case, we must make very few mistakes,” said Sohel, who is set to play the tournament for the third time after missing out on the last edition.
The Abahani midfielder is drawing inspiration from the team’s good performance in the World Cup qualifiers.
“We played a 1-1 draw against India after performing well against Qatar on home ground. We also played well against Oman except for some mistakes in the second half. Considering all things, I believe it is not impossible to win against Palestine,” said Sohel, who also believes everyone is determined to put the nightmare of SA Games behind them.
“There was high expectation on the under-23 team in the SA Games, but the players could not meet that expectation. Coaches, officials and everyone else told the players to be mentally prepared to deliver good results in the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in a bid to erase the failure of SA Games. The players have also realised that they could not secure deserved position in the SA Games and they are now looking forward to doing something better like the 2015 edition of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup where we played in the final,” said Sohel, who also believes the participating teams from Africa, especially Burundi, very good sides.