Nepal on Tapu’s mind

Bangladesh defender Tapu Barman. Photo: Star

Centre-back Tapu Barman has been thinking about Nepal from the day Bangladesh suffered a 2-0 defeat to the Maldives in the SAFF Championship last Thursday. 

And the defender has his reasons as it was Nepal who denied Bangladesh a semifinal berth in the previous edition of the tournament in Dhaka.

"To be honest, I have been thinking about Nepal for the last two days because we could not play the semifinals of the last edition of the SAFF Championship at home because of Nepal despite having six points," Tapu told The Daily Star today. 

"We needed only one point to play the semifinals but we could not do it. So, it has been coming to mind time and again in the last two days," Tapu added.

Having beaten Bhutan and Pakistan, Bangladesh needed just a draw against Nepal to play the SAFF Championship semifinal in 2018. But a fumble from goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel saw Bangladesh concede the opener in the 33rd minute before Nawayug Shrestha wrapped up the victory in the dying minutes to shatter Bangladesh's hopes of appearing in their first final of the tournament since 2005.

Tapu, meanwhile, remains tensed over how Bangladesh have collapsed in crucial matches in the past.

"It was seen in the past that when we needed important points in a crucial match, we were unable to secure it. This time we may get another chance against Nepal, subject to India's win over Nepal tomorrow [Sunday], to show our character. 

"If we win, we are likely to advance to the final, so I think we, all the players, should think about the Nepal match because such a challenging match doesn't come often. In such a situation, if the players can keep their nerves strong and confidence high, then they can easily thrive," believes Tapu.

Tapu, who scored the winner during Bangladesh's win over Sri Lanka in the SAFF Championship opener, also believed the defeat against the Maldives was a wake-up call for the men in red and green.  

"We had a good start in the SAFF Championship with a victory over Sri Lanka followed by a draw against India. But we lost to the Maldives and I believe it is a wake-up call for us. We have to be motivated from this point because we still have a chance against Nepal," said Tapu.

"Of course, every player understands the importance of this game and we have no alternative but to secure full three points in the last match if we want to play the final of the SAFF Championship. I'm hopeful that all players will be ready for the Nepal match," said Tapu, who along with all the players had an off day today.

After a two-day rest, the team will resume training from tomorrow and Tapu believes they will be fully ready for Wednesday's crucial clash against Nepal.