Bangladesh a step away from SAFF semis | 2018-09-08 |

Bangladesh a step away from SAFF semis

Hosts take on Nepal today

Hamidur Rahman     8 September, 2018 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh a step away from SAFF semis

Bangladesh National Football Team players vie for the ball during a practice session at Bangabandhu National Stadium in the capital on Friday. Bangladesh will play against Nepal today at 7:00pm. — Hamidur Rahman Swarup

High flying hosts Bangladesh will meet Nepal today at 7:00pm at country’s premier sports venue Bangabandhu National Stadium in the capital, when the two teams will play their last Group A match of SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018.

Both the teams will be eyeing for full three points from their last match today to secure the semi-final spot of South Asian football tournament.

However, Bangladesh have the upper hand with two wins from previous two matches. The hosts are topping the Group A chart with six points and three goal difference and a draw will comfortably make them through to the semis. Even the boys in red and green can see them in the semi-final stage but in that case the result of the other match between Pakistan and Bhutan will also play a crucial role.

Both Nepal and Pakistan have one win and one defeat but Nepal are ahead of Pakistan in goal difference. If Nepal beat Bangladesh, Pakistan must have to win against Bhutan with better margin to get place in the semis instead of Bangladesh or Nepal.

Although the equations will only be effective if both the matches resulted against Bangladesh’s favour.

With British coach Jamie Day’s precise training and combination of team with bunch of senior and young bloods, the home boys are likely to book their ticket for the semi-final stage easily today.

Coach Jamie didn’t let his boys to get a break and utilised the rest day (yesterday) in rigorous practice session at Bir Shreshtha Shaheed Sepoy Mohammad Mostafa Kamal Stadium in the city’s Kamalapur.

It is likely that coach will deploy the same squad for the final group clash today. The formation of Waly Faisal, Jamal Bhuiyan, Mamunul Islam and Shahidul Alam Sohel with young prodigies’ like Saad Uddin, Mahbubur Rahman Sufil and Topu Barman, made the team as one of the best squads of the tournament.

In SAFF championship this year in home soil, Bangladesh won the first match against Bhutan by 2-0 goals where Topu Barman and Mahbubur Rahman Sufil netted one goal apiece in each half of the match. Their second match was against Pakistan and the boys faced a tough resistance from the visitors. Topu emerged as the team’s saviour in the 85th minute of the goalless match to change the score to 1-0.

Nepal had a shaky start in the tournament with 1-2 loss to Pakistan but bounced back with terrific game in the second match to beat Bhutan by 4-0. All will be at stake from both Bangladesh and Nepal today to punch their way out of the group stage of SAFF football.

Bangladesh claimed the SAFF trophy only once in 2003 when the tournament was held in home ground. After fifteen years without any mentionable record to be proud of, the team and the nation are dreaming of bringing back the long lost glory of football with SAFF 2018 trophy.

Bangladesh squad: Ashraful Islam Rana, Shahidul Alam Sohel, Anisur Rahman, Topu Barman, Nasiruddin Chowdhury, Bishwanath Ghosh, Tutul Hossain Badsha, Waly Faisal, Sushanta Tripura, Masuk Miah Zony, Mamunul Islam Mamun, Emon Mahmud Babu, Faisal Mahmud, Sohel Rana, Biplu Ahmed, Atiqul Islam Fahad, Jamal Bhuiyan, Shahkawat Hossain Rony, Mahbubur Rahman Sufil and Saad Uddin.