Bangladesh will leave for Nepal on Wednesday to defend their SAFF under-15 title though they do not have much realistic hope to do that.
Bangladesh boys clinched the championship in the last edition at home thanks to their good pre-tournament preparation that remained non-existent this time around.
Last time they were under a training programme for over six months in the now defunct Sylhet Football Academy but this time they were together hardly for a month.
On the other hand, their opponents India, Nepal and Bhutan have been going through an intensive training programme and have been busy with competitive matches at home and away.
Natural talents like Sadd Uddin and Sarwar Zaman Nipu helped the boys in the green and red clinch the trophy last time but coaches and officials said this time the players of their calibre are absent in the team.
But despite the odds coach Mostafa Anwar Parvez did not want to lose complete hopes.
‘We don’t have the special individual performers like Saad [Uddin] or [Sarwar Zaman] Nipu but the present squad of U-15 is also good in the backline as well as midfield,’ said Parvez at a press conferee at the BFF House on Sunday.
Parvez added that though they did not have long-term practice many of his players know each other well as they are from BKSP and he set the initial target of reaching semi-finals.
‘It is right that our neighbouring countries have strong academy system and they have a strong squad but we are not less strong than them because our most of the players are also from BKSP, who have been together for long.
‘Our first target is to qualify for the semi-finals and it is important to emerge group champions to ensure the finals.’
The under-15 boys started their practice for their Nepal voyage back on July 13 before playing two practice matches, which they lost both.
Team captain Jehad said they would try their best to retain the trophy though he felt that they needed to be stronger to fulfil their mission.
‘We will be trying to retain the title what our senior brothers won. We have been preparing in line with what the coaches are instructing us,’ said Jehad.
‘After playing the practice matches, we felt that we have to be strong mentally as the opponents were expected to be stronger sides,’ he added.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Football