English coach Jamie Day will keep a keen eye on the senior footballers when Bangladesh take on Sri Lanka in a FIFA-sanctioned friendly match at the Sheikh Kamal Stadium in Nilphamari today.
The game will begin at 4:00pm with state-owned Bangladesh Television broadcasting live from the 20,000 capacity venue.
Although the match may have the status of an international friendly, both teams look serious about the tie, especially with the looming SAFF Championship in Dhaka next month.
The visitors will definitely be looking to fine-tune their combination before starting their SAFF Championship group campaign against seven-time champions India on September 5, a day after Bangladesh take on Bhutan in one of the opening day’s two matches at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka.
However, rather than fine-turning their combination, Bangladesh will aim to select the best senior players to fill the 20-member squad as, aside from defender Tutul Hossain Badsha, Day has left behind 10 players who played the four Asian Games matches. Today he is planning to give other senior and junior players match time to prove themselves before the final selection for the SAFF Championship.
Nevertheless there is an expectation that the hosts will put up a good show against the Islanders, especially after the Bangladesh U-23 squad’s brilliant performances against Thailand, Qatar and North Korea in the Asian Games. The senior footballers want to carry that momentum into the friendly rather than thinking of their own fates in the SAFF squad.
“The match is not only for the senior players. It is a match for the country as a good result will be counted in the FIFA rankings. So the match is important for two reasons, FIFA ranking and as preparation for the SAFF Championship,” former captain Mamunul Islam said over phone.
“We are not thinking of who is going to get a chance in the final squad because we know coach Jamie Day will select the right players and the fitter ones. So we want a good result tomorrow [Wednesday] so that we can go into the SAFF Championship with a good impression.”
Striker Shakhawat Hossain Rony, however, is serious about proving his worth as are the other seniors, who have been eagerly awaiting the encounter following a long-term training camp.
“This match is important for us because we have been training for a long time but hardly got any chance to play the full 90 minutes compared to those who played in the Asian Games as well as a few friendlies in South Korea,” Rony said.
“So, through this match, we will be able to judge our fitness as well as standard and everyone, especially the senior players, are serious about proving the point that they are also capable of being part of the SAFF squad,” Rony continued, adding that a win over Sri Lanka would help Bangladesh go into the SAFF Championship with a winning mentality.
The visitors are also optimistic of putting up a good performance to entertain the spectators, informed our correspondent from Dinajpur.
“It is a crucial match for us,” Sri Lankan coach Nizam Pakeer Ali said. “Bangladesh is a second home for me because I played here many times before. We want to play our best match against Bangladesh and go for a win.”
Statistically, Bangladesh have won 11 of their 16 matches against Sri Lanka and only lost thrice with the latest being a 3-0 defeat to the Islanders in Colombo in 2010.