Jamal full of hope ahead of Bahrain draw
89th in the FIFA Rankings, Bahrain are among the favorites in Group E. They are 99 places ahead of 188th-ranked Bangladesh, who suffered a 0-2 defeat against Bahrain in the only match between two teams, at the FIFA Cup. of the President in Seoul in 1979. Bahrain appear to be in top form, recording six wins in seven games this year against Uganda, Congo, India, Burundi, Myanmar and Thailand. Their only defeat came against Belarus. Bangladesh have played just three matches this year, losing to the Maldives before drawing against Mongolia and Indonesia.
For all the latest news, follow the Daily Star’s Google News channel.
Bangladesh are set to return to the Asian Cup qualifying round after a long 16-year hiatus when they face mighty Bahrain in one of the first Group E games at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. today.
The match will kick off at 3:15 p.m. (Bangladesh Standard Time).
Bangladesh enjoyed a dream campaign in their first-ever Asian Cup qualifiers, in which they secured a place in the 10-team final round after finishing as one of four group runners-up in 1979. But they struggled more in the final round despite showing potential in two of their four matches in Qatar in 1980.
Since then, Bangladesh was part of the Asian Cup qualifying round until 2006 except 1996 when Bangladesh withdrew from the competition. Bangladesh would not reach the final round in their next six attempts.
Instead, Bangladesh were demoted to participate in the new AFC Challenge Cup, a tournament that rewarded winners with Asian Cup qualifier tickets until it was suspended in 2015.
The AFC then made massive changes in the Asian Cup and World Cup qualifiers, but Bangladesh failed to qualify for the qualifiers, losing 3-1 on aggregate to Bhutan in the final. 2016 playoffs.
This time around, they beat Laos 1-0 on aggregate to advance to the Asian Cup qualifiers and end their 16-year exile, but were derailed by injuries.
But ahead of their tough group encounters, Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuiyan was optimistic of surprising Bahrain, who are 99 places ahead of Bangladesh in the FIFA rankings.
“I think the other team may think Bangladesh will be an easy target, but I think the players have other things on their minds and we can create surprises,” Jamal said in the pre-match briefing yesterday. .
“Tomorrow is a big game. We know we did everything to prepare well,” Jamal said. “Of course we are missing points in some areas, but we have discussed this with the coach. Overall, if the game plan goes well, we can get something out of this game.”
Bangladesh coach Javier Cabrera knows his side face a tough task against Bahrain and should adopt a counter attack strategy.
“It will be a similar approach [as it was in a recently friendly against Indonesia] tomorrow [Wednesday]”said Cabrera, who played a four-man defense and two defensive midfielders in a five-man midfield in the goalless draw.