Bangladesh face long lay-off after SAFF exit

Staff Correspondent | Updated at 11:56pm on September 10, 2018


Bangladesh national football team players look dejected after their loss to Nepal in their final Group A match of the 12th SAFF Championship at the BNS on Saturday. — New Age photo

Bangladesh national football team is set to face another lean period after their early exit from SAFF championship following a heartbreaking 0-2 defeat to Nepal in Dhaka.
Bangladesh have just ended their 23-month wait for a competitive game, which incidentally came after a successful run of Under-23 in the Asian Games in Jakarta.
Bangladesh qualified for second round in Asian Games for the first time and looked good in SAFF until the setback, which shattered their dream of first semi-final berth in nine years.
National team’s new head Jamie Day found a bunch of young players in Jakarta and many of them played in SAFF to give Bangladesh a renewed hope of reviving their past glory.
Bangladesh are scheduled host Bangabandhu Gold Cup from October 1 to 12, but the invitational tournament was never taken seriously by any participating country in the past.
After the six-nation tournament, the senior national team have to wait for another competitive tournament until September 2020 when they play in the qualifying round of 2022 World Cup.
The AFC Solidarity Cup, a tournament for fringe Asian nations, which Bangladesh refused to play last time, is scheduled on March 18-31 in 2020.
The schedule means Bangladesh Football Federation have to depend on the FIFA international match days to keep the national side playing.
But BFF officials said they were yet to think about it. BFF general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag said at the moment their priority is only next month’s Bangabandhu Gold Cup.
‘Our head [Jamie Day] left Dhaka for United Kingdom Sunday for 12 days. After his return the national team’s committee will seat to make a future plan,’ said Shohag.
Former national players urged the BFF to act quickly to cash in on success of Under-23 team and rebuild the national team, which showed promises despite SAFF debacle.
‘The BFF needs to bring players in a long term training under a coach who will work with them for the next three or four years,’ said former goalkeeper Aminul Haque.
‘In 2003 [when Bangladesh won their maiden SAFF title] we showed a similar prospect but due to dilly-dally in decision making and lack of vision we could not build on the success,’ he said.
‘We must pick all the FIFA friendly match days and arrange matches both home and away to keep the players in touch,’ he added.
Former national team coach Saiful Bari Titu urged the BFF to give importance to produce more players and make a collective programme to involve the clubs to work in development sector.
‘We always speak over BFF’s failure of not running an academy but it’s not BFF’s duty. The clubs should come forward to produce new players,’ Titu said.
‘I think BFF also should the take the responsibility because they failed to involve the clubs to run academies.
‘BFF also have to chalk out a plan to hold international friendlies at a regular basis but they have to pick the right time so that the domestic league can run smoothly.’
Former national team striker Alfaz Ahmed demanded the resumption of some nationwide tournaments to find new football talent.
‘We need to produce more players by running academy and holding nationwide tournaments like Sher-e-Bangla Club, Suhrawadry Cup and Biman Cup,’ Alfaz said.
‘We saw a huge number of players came from such tournaments in past and they later delivered the national team. Until we do this the future will remain as it is,’ he added.