Teams seek to step it up in final friendly | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 17, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:28 AM, November 17, 2020

Teams seek to step it up in final friendly

Head coach Jamie Day, having tested positive for Covid-19 a second time yesterday, will be absent when hosts Bangladesh bid to end the Mujib Borsho FIFA International Series with a second consecutive win against Nepal in the second match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium today

State-owned Bangladesh Television and private sports channel T-Sports will be telecasting the match live from 5:00pm.

While the two-match series was seen as a way to get back into the swing of things after a long, pandemic-induced break, today's match has become a matter of prestige for both sides after the hosts beat the Himalayan nation 2-0 on Friday.

In the first game, both teams were off the boil in terms of fitness, speed and ball distribution and there were a series of misfires up front, especially from Bangladeshi forwards. Three days later, the teams are expected to be in relatively good shape, having played a 90-minute match after a gap of more than eight months, so the final game is expected to be more competitive than the first.

Bangladesh will certainly be hoping to go into December's World Cup qualifier against Qatar with the knowledge that they are on an upward graph, having beaten Nepal, who are 17 places ahead in the rankings, in back-to-back games. Nepal, on the other hand, will be hoping to return home with a share of the spoils by levelling the series, despite being a depleted side due to the absence of some key players.

"I am sure tomorrow's game will be difficult. I think the opposition will be an improved and better side. Hopefully we will also be a better team. So, I am looking forward to an improved performance from Bangladesh and expecting a strong performance from Nepal as well," said assistant coach Stuart Watkiss in an online pre-match conference, helming the side in the absence of Jamie Day, who will be absent from the dugout for the first time since taking charge in 2018.

"I have prepared the plan the best way we can. We looked back at the last game including the things we need to improve on."

Captain Jamal Bhuiyan believed Day's absence will have no impact.

"I think it will be the same tactic and game plan and us players have to carry out the game plan as the coach will tell us," said Jamal.

Saying Bangladesh may face a bit of problem in Day's absence, Nepal coach Bal Gopal Maharjan said, "We have gained the knowledge from the last match and prepared ourselves accordingly in the last three days because our focus is on putting up a good performance. We are ready for tomorrow's match and I hope Nepal will perform well as a team and individually."

Bangladesh is likely to bring a couple of changes to the playing eleven, with goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana and centre-back Yeasin Khan entering in place of Anisur Rahman Zico and Riyadul Hasan Rafi.

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