Bangladesh Under-23 National Football team will play a much stronger Palestine in their second match of Group B of AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifiers at Khalifa Sports City Stadium in Bahrain today.
Bangladesh (FIFA ranking 192) could never manage a win against Palestine (FIFA ranking 100) since their first meeting in AFC Challenge Cup in Dhaka in 2006. Hosts Bangladesh national team (ranked 192) played to a 1-1 in their first match in 2006, suffered 0-2 goals defeat in the FIFA International Friendly in 2011 and conceded 0-1 defeat in the AFC Asia Cup in 2013. Bangladesh U-23 team suffered 0-3 defeat against hosts Palestine in 2017.Touring Bangladesh conceded a narrow 0-1 goal defeat against upper ranked and hosts Bahrain in one of the two opening day’s matches Friday night (March 22) while Palestine made a flying start in the four-team Group B outplaying Sri Lanka by 9-0 goals Friday afternoon at the same venue.
Captain Mohamed Yusuf Handan scored the match-winner for Bahrain in the 21st minute of the match against Bangladesh.
The youthful Bangladesh team, which put in four-team Group B of the Asian Youth Football with hosts Bahrain, Palestine and Sri Lanka, will play Sri Lanka on Tuesday (March 26) at 10pm (Bangladesh time) in the remaining group match. Forty-four teams, split into eleven groups, are taking part in the AFC U-23 qualifiers, a qualifying meet of the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Later, 11 group champions with four best group runners-up and hosts Thailand will play in the 16-team final round of the meet slated for January next year. The top three teams will qualify for Tokyo Olympics.
Ahead of the tough match against Palestine, the Head Coach of Bangladesh team Jamie Day said, “Palestine and Bahrain are best teams in the group. So, the match against Palestine will be another tough one (After 0-1 defeat against Bahrain), but we’re up for the challenge. We’ll give it our best to get something out of the game hopefully.”
“We need to get something from the match after losing yesterday (Friday). It’s going to be similar to what we’ve done before. We want to obviously start the game well. We want to be compact to give ourselves a chance of getting something out of the match. And hopefully we can capitalize on the mistakes they make” Jamie Day added. “We’ll have a discussion tonight (Saturday) and decide which will be the best formation to play tomorrow (against Palestine),” he further said.Bangladesh goalkeeping coach Dean May said, “The performance of our custodian Zico was good in the last night. He kept the team in the game with some of his saves. He has been trying to implement some of the match related training in the game.”
Meanwhile, Bangladesh did not have any training on Saturday apart from a gym and pool session at 11:00am local time. There will be class with all the players for video analysis and match related discussion for tomorrow’s game.
Earlier, Bangladesh went to Bahrain with high morale taking 10-day intensive training camp in Qatar, where they beat Al Shahania Club by 1-0 goal and played to a goalless draw with Al Arabi Club in two preparatory matches in the gulf country.
Bangladesh football team, studded with 11 youthful U-23 players, recently beat hosts Cambodia by 1-0 in the FIFA International Friendly in Phnom Penh.