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Bangladesh look to make winning start

  • Sports Correspondent
  • 1 October, 2021 12:00 AM
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Bangladesh look to make winning start
(From left to right) Players of Bangladesh national football team and Sri Lanka attend their respective practice sessions on Thursday at Henveiru Stadium in Male, Maldives. – BFF PHOTOS

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Bangladesh will be looking to make a winning start in the 13th SAFF Championship when they lock horns against Sri Lanka in the tournament opener today at National Stadium in Maldivian capital Male.

 The match is scheduled to start at 05:00pm Bangladesh Standard Time and will be telecast live on T Sports.

The men in red and green had a disappointing outing during the last four editions of the tournament as they failed to qualify for the semis in all those meets and they last qualified for the semis back in 2009 during the eighth edition of the tournament in Dhaka.

Bangladesh, however, will try to change their past history this time around but they will have to face bigger challenges to book their place in the final.

A total of five teams - India, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are taking part in this year’s tournament and the top two sides will make it to the final after the round-robin format fixture.

It means Bangladesh will have to play every game as a knockout match in order to get into the final.

Bangladesh, which are currently 16-place above Sri Lanka in the FIFA ranking, however, got a blow ahead of the match as their two players -- midfielder Sohel Rana and defender Rezaul Karim were ruled out of the match due to fever.

Meanwhile, all the members tested negative for Covid-19 for the second time on Wednesday.

Interim head coach Oscar Bruzon said the confidence of his players is very high and they are eagerly waiting to make a winning start in the competition.

“Final is our dream… I believe that our rivals (Sri Lanka) will allow us to make a good start. We are the second bottom team (in FIFA rankings among the participating teams) but in terms of confidence I want to say that our team is among the top 10 teams in the world,” he said on Thursday. 

Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuyan also echoed the same sentiment of his coach.

“Fans come to watch our practice and that was extra motivation for us. We will try to give something good back to them. I think and I hope that we will do very well against Sri Lanka,” he said.

Bangladesh previously clinched the title of the SAFF Championship once in 2003 while ended runners-up two times in 1999 and 2005.

Sri Lanka also won the tournament once in 1995 while became runners-up in 1993. 

Both the teams previously faced twice in the SAFF Championship where Bangladesh won one and Sri Lanka won the other.

Both the teams met first in the SAFF in 2008 where Bangladesh conceded a 0-1 goal defeat to Sri Lanka in a group match. But the very next edition in 2009, the men in red and green earned a 2-1 win over the Island nation in a group match.

Meanwhile, hosts and reigning champions Maldives will play against Nepal in the day’s second match which will take place after the first match and inaugural ceremony at the same venue at 10:00pm.