While chatting with one of my very close NRB mate who keeps track of Bangladesh team playing cricket or football anywhere he argued with me about “Two better teams of the five reached the final.” With a little bit of arguments, I had to agree with my mate.
Yes, after the last pool matches yesterday which ultimately turned out as Semi Finals (Do or die for India and Bangladesh) India stormed into final outclassing home team Maldives (3-1). Bangladesh finishing 1-1 with Nepal failed to qualify. Maldives as host and reigning champions lost to both Nepal and India. Hence, they would not complain much about India and Nepal reaching the final. Bangladesh drew with both India and Nepal. Some die hard Bangladesh fan might think that Bangladesh was heard done. But if one thinks deep, one would appreciate Bangladesh was not a championship materials. They had no quality goal scorer, could not hold possession long enough. They won against lowly Sri Lanka, fought bravely against India, but played very poorly against Maldives. Definitely India and I would say on the basis of overall performance Nepal is better team than Bangladesh.
Nepal was looking good from the start. They were table topper till the last match with 6 points from three matches. They not only upset host Maldives in the first match but also won against Sri Lanka. However, after a great fight against India they lost (0-1). Against Bangladesh in the last match, they conceded a goal but dominating the match from there on created relentless pressure on Bangladesh. There can be some discussions about Bangladesh Goalkeeper getting marching order and Uzbek Referee awarding penalty in favor of Nepal. But Bangladesh was definitely the second-best team of the match. While winning was the only way Bangladesh for qualifying what made Bangladesh falling back into defense. They could have gone all out into the attack pouring more feet upfront. Bangladesh had only 25-30% possession in the match. How could a team win in such a match? We have no reason to accept Nepal as deserving team reaching the final.
Bangladesh did whatever they could with very limited resources. They were not the team to reach the final. With very limited scoring ability and lack of quality in the mid field it is the natural outcome what happened. I am sure Oscar Bruzon would do soul searching and BFF would reassess their priorities. Bangladesh defended well. Need some imaginative mid fielders and off course a handful of quality goal scorers. In football all that matters is scoring goals. Bangladesh lacks that ability. No one cares which team dominates the proceeding, everyone remembers which team scores and wins.
India on the other hand started slowly and gathered momentum match by match. They had an off day against spirited Bangladesh. They also played poorly in the drawn match against Sri Lanka. They looked in their own self against Nepal and thrashed host Maldives in the final. India is pre-tournament favorites. In Sunil Chetry they have a world class scorer who alone can win match at this level. If only Bangladesh had a forward 50% of Sunil’s quality Bangladesh could be playing in the final we can guarantee.
As long-term planning Bangladesh must look seriously into its domestic format. Competitive football must be organized at regional levels. Eight divisional Head Quarters must be the regional centers for organizing competitive football in the divisions. BFF should coordinate. More emphasis must be given on age level soccer. Quality foreign coaching staff must be engaged at academy level. Bangladesh still has quality local coaches who should be properly utilized.
Club level football must be made truly professional. All professional clubs playing in Major Leagues must have under 23 team or A team and a women team. Quota of foreign players must be restricted to not more than 3 for the next two years and gradually brought down to 2.
As short-term planning Bangladesh must explore and find quality Non-Resident Bangladeshis playing quality soccer in different countries like Jamal Bhuiyan and Tarik Kazi to strengthen the present team. People would be drawn into soccer if only Bangladesh stars winning at international level.
Bangladesh played well to their potential. They are not the team to feature in the final. However, Oscar Bruzon has definitely instilled some enthusiasm in the team. He should be given all out assistance going forward.
BDST: 1352 HRS, OCT 14, 2021