Bangladesh national football team will begin their AFC Asian Cup qualifiers campaign today as they take on strong opponents Bahrain in the Group E opening encounter at Bukit Jalil National Stadium in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
The match is scheduled to start at 03:15pm and will be telecast live on T-Sports.
Turkmenistan will face hosts Malaysia at the same venue at 07:00pm (BST) on the same day.
The two countries – Bangladesh and Bahrain previously met once, with Bahrain picking up a 2-0 win all the way back in 1979 during ‘President’s Cup’, a result Bangladesh will be desperate to avoid this time around if they are to make a first AFC Asian Cup appearance since 1980.
The men in red and green, who are playing in the third round of Asian Cup qualifiers after a long 42-year gap, held a 24-day preparation camp including a FIFA international friendly against Indonesia for this campaign.
Bangladesh played a goalless draw in the practice match against Indonesia who were also a higher-ranked opponent (159th) than them.
Bangladesh head coach Javier Cabrera said in a pre-match press conference on Tuesday that his side would take the same approach against Bahrain which they did against Indonesia.
Captain Jamal Bhuyan said if they can play as per the plan, they can do some surprises in this tough match against the toughest opponent in the group.
“We know it is gonna be a very tough match because if we look at the ranking in the group they are the toughest team,” said the Bangladesh skipper.
“So all of us are aware of it. Hopefully, we can do some surprises. Everybody is motivated and well prepared. It’s a big match. I’m confident if our game plan goes well, we can get something out of the match,” he added.
Bahrain head coach Helio Sousa, meanwhile, claimed that all the teams would have equal chances with this format of the competition where each team would play three matches within seven days.
He further said that their opponents (Bangladesh) would give a tough competition against them.
“There is nothing to do with the team’s ranking here at this moment. Sometimes the qualities of the team didn’t reflect through the rankings,” he said.
“We’re expecting a very competitive game. We’re focusing on the first game because if we don’t win the first match, many problems will arise for the next matches,” he added.