Bangladesh national football team will be eager to earn a few ranking points when they end their long hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic with two international friendly fixtures at home against Nepal next month.
Football in the country came to a halt in the middle of March due to the pandemic and despite a resumption of camp in the first week of August, the postponement of World Cup qualifiers have kept footballers out of the game for the last seven months.
With no other international assignment left for this year, the November FIFA window comes as an opportunity to improve rankings for Bangladesh, who languish at 187th position in world football. Nepal, ranked 170th, have had no football of their own, too, during this period.
Despite the lack of preparation, BFF general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag believes Nepal's consent to playing the two matches gives them an ideal opportunity to use the FIFA window.
"We want to utilise FIFA windows more and more and this is an ideal opportunity. If we can start preparation soon, there is enough time for the players to prepare for the matches. Furthermore, Nepal won't have an advantage as they have not stated training yet either," Shohag told The Daily Star yesterday.
The proposed matches will be held between November 11 and 19 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka and the BFF high-ups are eager to get the players back on the pitch. The BFF spokesman said that they would engage in talks with the foreign coaching staff today.
"We invited quite a few South Asian teams, including Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives, for two friendly matches in November about a month ago. Nepal have verbally corresponded to us about its government's green signal. So we will now start our preparations with a meeting with our national team coaches," BFF general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag told The Daily Star yesterday.
According to an ANFA press release, Nepal team will start their preparation for the matches after the Dashain festival (Durga Puja), which ends on October 28.
Bangladesh coach Jamie Day was a bit concerned about the amount of time left for the two games, according to the BFF spokesman, but he said that the head coach and assistant coach, Stuart Watkiss, are eager to come to Bangladesh and start preparation.
"The two coaches will be there in the meeting and so will Paul Smalley (BFF's technical director). We will discuss all the aspects of preparation, including whether we will need to add a fitness trainer or any other personnel. And then after the meeting, we will have a series of meetings with government agencies regarding Nepal team's mode of arrival, state of health protocol, quarantine, practice facilities and access of spectators at the venue," Shohag said.
The last time Bangladesh met Nepal was during the SAFF Championship in Dhaka in September 2018, with the home team suffering a 2-0 defeat.