'We'll go for the kill'
Even though a draw against Sri Lanka today will be good enough for Bangladesh to go through to the semifinals of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup, the hosts are looking forward to securing full points in this crucial match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
Following the lacklustre defeat against Malaysia U-23 team in their opening fixture, Lodewijk de Kruif and his charges sounded eager to make amends and put on a strong display to ensure the last four berth.
“A draw is enough for us indeed, but taking the field with an approach of playing for a draw is always difficult and dangerous. Our approach is to play well and win the match to go through the next round,” said the Dutch coach at the pre-match briefing at the BFF House yesterday.
The coach hinted that there might be two or three changes in the starting eleven from the one that played against Malaysia as the performances of striker Zahid Hasan Emily, winger Sohel Rana, midfielder Jamal Bhuiyan and defenders Yeamin Munna, Atiqur Rahman Meshu and goalkeeper Rasel Mahmud Liton have been criticised. De Kruif tried some other players in those positions but he is expected to make a wholesale change to the eleven.
There are plenty of positives on the background to validate de Kruif's statement. Bangladesh are ahead of the Lankans both on head-to-head count and FIFA ranking while playing on homeground with a three-day rest should put the hosts at an advantageous position. Skipper Mamunul Islam believes they are prepared for Sri Lanka's challenge.
“We need three points and all 23 players are fit and ready to give hundred per cent. We are focused on securing full points rather than putting up a good show because end the result is all that matters,” said the 27-year-old skipper.
Mamunul and his teammates, along with the coaching staff, watched the Sri Lanka versus Malaysia match and were supposed to analyse the aspects of that match during practice session.
The Sri Lankans, on the other hand, are still trying to transfer the pressure by saying that their focus is more on preparing for the World Cup pre-qualifiers rather than the outcome of this tournament.
Coach Nikola Kavazovic however warned that his charges would be trying to capitalise on the opportunities in counter attack, something he felt his side failed to do against Malaysia.
“Though the players are tired after the domestic league, there is no lack of motivation about beating the home side. My boys will not play slowly in the middle as Sri Lankans never surrender without a fight,” said Kavazovic, whose side did give the Malaysians a hard time before going down 0-2.