U-23s aim at series sweep
Fresh from a single-goal win over the Nepal U-23 team, Bangladesh U-23s are looking forward to wrapping up the two-match SS Steel International Friendly series with a victory when they take on the visitors at the Sylhet District Stadium today.
The match will start at 5:00pm with state-owned Bangladesh Television (World) telecasting the match live from Sylhet, which is set to host its first international football friendly. And the good news for the governing body of country's football, that has been struggling to draw a decent crowd in any domestic football competitions, is that the game is expected to be played in front of a 25,000 sell-out crowd.
While the team management will be looking for the home team to carry on with the pace and verve displayed in the first game, they will also be looking for some improvements up front -- the lone area that looked a little shaky in the first game, although the forwards scored regular goals in the practice matches against local teams.
Lodewijk de Kruif's charges put pressure on the visitors from the very first minutes with a good combination of the three departments -- the midfield comprising Mamunul Islam, Shohel Rana and Hemanta Vincent functioned well while debutant left-winger Yousuf Sifat and promising right-winger Toklish Ahmed penetrated the opposition backline effectively and consistently, even though they had to wait for an hour for Shohel's eye-catching decider.
The hosts' backline was also rock solid except for one mistake and the management will definitely be hoping that they do not commit any fumbles in today's match.
However, head coach de Kruif wants his charges to play in the same tempo from the outset till the last minute, although they did struggle in the last 15 to 20 minutes on Tuesday.
Captain Mamunul Islam was cautious about the opponents, who he believes are better than Bangladesh and can turn the tables around at any time.
“I am hopeful that we can carry the momentum of the first match to the second game,” said Mamunul, who expects that a capacity crowd will help them perform better to wrap up the series.
Bangladesh had their practice in the afternoon while Nepal practised in the morning at the Sylhet Divisional Stadium.
Nepal, for their part, are eager to level the series.
“Tomorrow's (Friday's) match is very important for us as we already lost the first game and we need to win the second one,” said Nepal U-23 captain Sagar Thapa, who however believed that the home side is different to the squad that played in the SAFF Championship last year.