Jamie, booters welcome SAFF C’ship postponement

Sports Correspondent

1 July, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh National Football Team head coach Jamie Day welcomed the decision to postpone SAFF Championship’2020 as the situation would not have been appropriate for football.

The 13th edition of the South Asian Football Federation Championship, also known as SAFF Championship or SAFF Suzuki Cup, was postponed until 2021 due to pandemic outbreak worldwide. The new schedule is yet to be confirmed. The decision was made after talks among its seven participating member associations, headed by SAFF General Secretary Anwarul Huq Helal, on Monday.

“Yes, make sense it's not safe at the moment to hold the tournament (SAFF). Also, the team wouldn't have enough time to prepare for it,” Jamie told daily sun on Tuesday.

The biennial SAFF Championship is a premier men’s football competition in the South Asian region. Bangladesh were expected to host the 13th edition of the meet, scheduled to be held on September 19 to 30 this year, to mark the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

National team have four matches of Joint Qualifiers round two for FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023. According to the new schedule proposed by AFC, Bangladesh will host Afghanistan India and Oman on October 8, November 12, and 17 respectively while face Asian champions Qatar in their lone away match on October 13.

Concurring coach, veteran midfielder Mamunul Islam Mamun also welcomed the decision of postponing SAFF. He believes it would give booters some respite.

“We will miss the SAFF this year; it feels a little bit bad because we always want to play. But the situation isn’t good yet. I think it isn’t safe to arrange any tournament at this moment. Also, we have a busy schedule this year as we have to play world cup qualifiers in October-November. It might make our schedule tight. I think it is a good decision,” Mamun said in his reaction.

Bangladesh's government has already eased lockdown and allowed some offices, businesses to resume operations on a limited scale from May 31, but the country's outdoor sporting activities are at a standstill. BFF also postponed its all sporting activities and there is no possibility of starting actions until September-October.

Goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana also believed the respite of SAFF postponement would help them benchmark their performances and adjust their training accordingly for the SAFF next year so that they can win the title.

“We heard this news after the view-exchanging meeting with the BFF president on Monday. SAFF is a premier men’s football competition in the South Asian region. I believe it will be a positive decision for us. We have been passing a long break in the wake of coronavirus. We might need a long time to get prepared for the tournament. However, now we get enough time, I think this will help us benchmark our performances and adjust our training accordingly for the SAFF Championship’2021. The extra time can help us prepare even better for my goal to win the title,” Rana said. 

Bangladesh earlier hosted the SAFF Championship for three times in 2003, 2009 and 2018 while clinched the title in 2003 and became runners-up for two times in 1999 and 2005. The men in red and green defeated Maldives in the final match of SAFF Gold Cup’2003 by 5-3 goals in the tie-breaker as their match ended 1-1 in the stipulated time.