The Bangladesh football team assumed a very relaxed and jovial mood as they went through a practice session at the APF Ground in Kathmandu yesterday, not showing any signs of the stress of playing three matches inside five days or any tension ahead of their task against hosts Nepal on Sunday.
Jamie Day took his charges through half-an-hour’s kickabout before getting them to a volleyball court for a bit of head-tennis in order to keep the players fresh for the Nepal match, from which they need a victory to move into the final.
The coach was as frivolous as the players, trying his best to hide the tension simmering from the danger of missing out on the final.
“We don’t want to do too much training with the boys. It’s nice to have a bit of fun. They’re not going to get any fitter now, so it’s about having a bit of fun and being as ready as we can for tomorrow’s match,” the coach said after the session.
“Nepal are playing today. So, we will know exactly what we have to do when we play against them and we will certainly try to do that,” Day said.
Later, Nepal beat Maldives and Bhutan beat Sri Lanka, with Nepal going to seven points and Bhutan finishing the stage with nine to confirm a berth in the final.
According to All Nepal Football Association officials, if two teams finish on equal points, head-to-head will count. Bangladesh, who are on four points, can beat Nepal to a place in the final with a win.
Captain Jamal Bhuiyan feels that despite the home advantage, Bangladesh can capitalise on the fact that they will be playing a Nepal team playing their second match in as many days.
“Everybody knows we must win, so we have only one target tomorrow [Sunday]. Nepal are a good team, but they have a game today so they will be tired tomorrow which is an advantage for us,” the midfielder said.
Despite winning a match and drawing another, Bangladesh have scored only two goals in three matches, one of which was an own goal.
Nabib Newaz Jibon has been poor in front of goal, but with Mahbubur Rahman Sufil missing out due to suspension and Biplo Ahmed unavailable through injury, the coach has limited options up front.
Jamal feels they will have to convert chances against Nepal, if they do come, or else they will have to settle for a bronze medal which they achieved last time around.
“We need to have the right mentality and right tactics. We create chances but can’t convert them. We have to avail our chances tomorrow,” said Jamal.
The match will get underway at the Dasarath Rangasala at 5:15pm Bangladesh time