‘Hope to represent Bangladesh as far as my career goes’
Finland-born Tariq Raihan Kazi is the second expatriate footballer after Jamal Bhuiyan to represent Bangladesh at international football. Tariq, who once played for Finland U-17, U-18 and U-19 national teams, made his debut for the men in red and green against Afghanistan in the World Cup and Asian Cup Qualifiers on June 3 before playing his second match against India in Qatar. The 20-year-old earned plenty of praise for showcasing brilliant performances as right-back in both games. From Doha, Tariq answered to The Daily Star's Anisur Rahman's queries -- about his journey to Bangladesh, participation in domestic league and future plans.
DS: Finally your dream to play for Bangladesh came true, so how did you feel after wearing the red and green jersey?
TRK: I feel delighted and proud to represent this wonderful nation.
DS: You have already featured in two matches -- one draw followed by a defeat. What was the experience on the ground, in those two matches?
TRK: The experience was great regardless of the results. Matches were of high quality and played at a high tempo and moreover, it has also been nice to compare my level to other international players.
DS: You were initially selected for the Three Nation Cup in Nepal but forced to leave due to injury. It must have been frustrating. How did you motivate yourself to be selected again?
TRK: Of course it was disheartening to get injured but over time I turned the frustration into motivation and just pushed myself to work harder to achieve my goals.
DS: You had come a long way to play in Bangladesh's domestic competitions from 2020 before being selected for national team eventually. How challenging was it for you, especially after playing over at Finland?
TRK: Indeed it has been a tremendous challenge -- coming to a new country with different climate for instance, but day-by-day I am adjusting and improving.
DS: You played at different age-groups for Finland and consequently had a good opportunity to feature for Finland's senior side but what inspired you to come to Bangladesh?
TRK: Everything I learned over at Finland, in football as well as in life, I cherish fondly. But my key inspiration behind switching national teams was the pride of playing for my father's country which feels exceptionally meaningful.
DS: How long do you want to represent Bangladesh, now that you are only 20?
TRK: I hope I stay fit, healthy and keep learning to become a better player with each passing day so that I can represent the country as far as my career goes, so at least 15 more years, I hope.
DS: As you have experienced top-flight football in Finland and participated in Europa League, what are the obstacles in the way of Bangladesh football's development?
TRK: Well, off the top of my head are the facilities where we work at -- gyms, training pitches and stadiums.
DS: With a lot of players missing the next match of the World Cup Qualifiers, how do you think a young Bangladesh team may perform against Oman?
TRK: This match will be a glorious opportunity for us. Everyone who ends up playing will obviously give his fearless best on the pitch. We are nothing but optimistic about this match and we will do the things the way we have been working at trainings for the best result possible.