Isa Town: Reflecting on the first two matches of Group B of AFC U23 qualifiers, Bangladesh head coach Jamie Day stated that he is proud of his players.
Speaking about the second match against Palestine, which Bangladesh lost narrowly just like the Bahrain match, Jamie said, “I think we played really well. After watching their first game, we knew that Palestine would be a big strong side that have some real quality players. We knew we had to keep our shape and we knew that we had to be hard to beat. I thought, in the first half, we did that exceptionally well. They scored from a long-range effort.”
“In the second half, I thought that we were in control of the game. We played three at the back like we did against Bahrain. I felt that we created the better chances. Unfortunately, we did not take those chances. And that’s been an issue for a long time now. We really need to take the chance when it counts. I feel sorry for the boys because we didn’t get something from the game. I thought they deserved that. But performance-wise, they have been fantastic. I cannot praise them highly enough.”
Bangladesh played like a totally different team in the second half and gave Palestine a reality check but were unfortunate not to get a reward for their hard work.
Asked about the change in attitude of the players, the Briton said that he just gave them a confidence boosting team talk during the break and the rest was the credit of the players.
“We just told them to believe a little bit more when they had the ball. We knew that our fitness now is strong. We knew that we can work for 90 minutes and we did that,” said Jamie.
“I think for us to improve further now…. is about when we create chances, we have to take them. That’s something that obviously we’ll need to work on. But again, I thought, in the second half, we were the better team. I felt that we deserved to get something. But in football, if you don’t take your chances then unfortunately, you get beaten. And that’s what happened. But really proud of the boys.”
Questioned about the last-minute goalkeeper swap in the starting eleven, the head coach said that it was because first choice goalkeeper Zico felt his leg injury, caused by a knock he took in the first match against Bahrain, during the warm-up before the match.
“Zico got a dead leg in the last game which we knew about. He said he was okay when we treated him and said he was okay to play against Bahrain. But then in the warm up, he felt his leg again and didn’t feel that he was fit enough to play which gave Pappu and opportunity who came in who did really well. So, pleased that Pappu got the chance to play.”
“I think we played two good games and pushed two great teams. Now, we’ll try to do our best and win the game against Sri Lanka. If we can do that, then, I think that we’d be able to look back and say that we played a good tournament,” concluded Jamie.
Meanwhile, Palestine coach Ayman Sandhuque also praised Bangladesh for the great football they played.
“They were playing defensive in the first half and tried to make us work more so that we get tired. And they succeeded in that. We became tired in the first half. Then they were visibly better than us in the second half. They started to attack. They started to play very well. They were very active in the field. Bangladesh team was really brave.”
Highlighting the fan support for Bangladesh, Sandhuque said, “They were playing with high strength because of the fans.”
“We became tired as the weather was really hot. We are not used to playing in such hot weather. Another problem is that we’d been on a short period of training before this tournament,” added the Palestine coach.
Nevertheless, Bangladesh players are determined to keep up the good work and to try and get a result out of Sri Lanka match which is slated to kick-off at the same stadium at 7:00pm Bangladesh time on Tuesday, March 26.
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