‘It’s going to be another tough match’
Bangladesh will desperately be looking to repeat Thursday's performance when they square off neighbours India in the World Cup and Asian Cup Qualifiers in Qatar today. The match kicks off at 8:00pm (BST) at the climate-controlled Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha.
Despite a creditable draw against Afghanistan, Jamie Day's charges are still bottom of the five-team table with two points from six matches, one behind point India. An outright victory over their neighbours will brighten Bangladesh's chances of finishing fourth as well as earning a direct berth to the Asian Cup Qualifiers.
However, the tie is not only an important affair, but also a prestigious battle for the boys in red and green, who have been deprived of outright wins against the Blue Tigers in their last three meetings despite taking the lead on all occasions, including in their last meeting away in Kolkata.
Although there is a 79-place gulf between the sides in the FIFA Rankings, it has hardly been reflected in the past matches with Jamal Bhuiyan and Co. drawing praise after a brave 1-1 performance against India in Kolkata in front of some 70,000 raucous spectators.
For their latest clash tomorrow, nearly two years since the last, only five players -- Jamal, Rahmat Mia, Riyadul Hasan Rafi, Biplu Ahmed and fit-again Mohammad Ibrahim -- who played in the starting eleven for Bangladesh in that game may be picked by Jamie.
Regardless, Bangladesh will definitely be seeking inspiration from Thursday's spirited showing against Afghanistan with a squad made up of inexperienced players and their British coach will have to trust some inexperienced players once again.
"It's going to be another tough match. They have some very good players and showed battling qualities in recent matches. We need to defend well again and be better on the ball in possession," Day told The Daily Star yesterday. "You look at India's last match against Qatar. With 10-men, they fought like warriors and lost 0-1. It only depicts the quality in their side. We are looking forward to the game. We are aware that we need to play to our maximum, and hope India have another off-day."
After playing out a 1-1 draw against Bangladesh at home, India are expected to be hungrier in order to raise their points tally as well ensure direct qualification for the Asia Cup. However, while Jamie thinks while India are not quite feeling those pangs, he expects them to want to win. "I don't think [they are] hungrier but I guess at the start of this tournament India would have expected automatic qualification to the Asian Cup. So they need to win," said the 41-year-old.
After Sohel Rana was sidelined with a bone fracture, fit-again Mohammad Ibrahim, who threatened India the most with daunting runs and dribbles during the Kolkata match, is going to be drafted in the playing eleven to boost Bangladesh. "Ibrahim will be involved. It is good to have a player like him available again, especially with 5 key players missing," hoped Jaime.
Captain Jamal Bhuiyan, who has said before that they always get inspiration to play against India due to the historical reasons, believes the match is going to be 'intense'. "It will be intense with a lot of battles. It's a beautiful match to be part of. Last time in Kolkata we were disappointed not to get the 3 points as India scored very late in the game. We have that hunger in us, and we know we can do some damage," Jamal was quoted as saying by the All Indian Football Federation official webpage.