Dream game thrown into turmoil

Bangladesh face Australia in WC qualifier today

Azad Majumder
Bangladesh midfielder Jamal Bhuyian (C) controls the ball with his head during a training session at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Monday ahead of their today’s World Cup qualifying match against Australia. — New Age photo

Bangladesh midfielder Jamal Bhuyian (C) controls the ball with his head during a training session at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Monday ahead of their today’s World Cup qualifying match against Australia. — New Age photo

It could easily have been the game of their lives. But the circumstances in the build up to the game left Bangladesh football team demoralised as they take on reigning Asian champions Australia in Dhaka today.
Beaten 0-5 in an unfamiliar territory in Tajikistan,  Bangladesh were expected to lift their game in this match — their last home game in the current World Cup qualifying campaign — which for some reasons has earned a global attention.
But it appeared that the charges of Italian Fabio Lopez are not in a position even to give a fight as they are suffering from some serious distractions.
The criticism after Tajikistan defeat, too much attention on the security of the opponent and an unexpected tug of war between club and federation appeared to affect the team’s morale.
Those left coach Lopez extremely frustrated and he made no attempt to hide his emotions.
‘Everything can be a distraction for the team,’ said a dejected Lopez during the team’s pre-match press conference on Monday.
‘Only time if the team is allowed lonely time, they can stay away from everything.’
Lopez has hardly any ambition with today’s game as he is mainly taking it as a preparation for the upcoming SAFF championship.
This is one reason Lopez said that prompted him to do some experiments with the team in his first two matches in charge.
‘I have come here to prepare the team for the SAFF,’ he said. ‘So I tried to experiment with the team. When I took the job, we were already out of the qualification campaign.’
Since Lopez took over from Dutchman Lodwijk de Kruif, Bangladesh lost to Kyrgyzstan 0-2 and received a mauling from Tajikistan at Dushanbe last week.
Earlier, they were thrashed by Australia and Jordan 0-5 and 0-4 respectively.
‘We can’t compare with teams like Australia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan,’ said Lopez. ‘If we lose 5-0 to a South Asian team, I will be the first person to say, bye.’
The Italian was sympathetic towards his charges, saying that they are passing a truly difficult time.
‘I think the moment is not very easy for our players,’ he said. ‘They had a lot of job over the last two months.
‘The condition for the Tajikistan match was
very hard. We must understand that they are very strong. The synthetic field didn’t help us. Maybe the result could have been better.
‘Australia are from a different world. We will try to do our job.’
Midfielder Jamal Bhuyian, who represented in the absence of skipper Mamunul Islam in the press conference, however, was not that pessimistic.
‘I want to give hundred per cent,’ said the Denmark-born player. ‘I hope the other players will give their best. If we give 90 per cent, Australia will easily kill us.
‘My feeling is we are the home team. I know Australia is a strong team. They [Socceroos] are not used to with our weather condition. Let’s hope we can use this to our advantage.’

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