Japanese Youths Embarrass Bangladesh National Team
Years have gone by but Bangladesh Football standard hardly improved. It is almost thirty years after which this writer who used to be a regular visitor of Dhaka football had opportunity to view an international football match at Dhaka stadium on Thursday 18 December. Bangladesh national team played against Japanese under 23 team. .Unfortunately cannot write much about the standard of Bangladesh football. The national team was comprehensively outplayed by Japanese youth which is now ready for taking on the competitors for qualification in the upcoming Olympics. Bangladesh team was no match and had to work relentlessly for damage control. Even the 0-3 margin hardly speaks of the absolute domination the Japanese had over the one sided affair. It could be much wider margin had not Bangladesh Goal keeper alone made several spectacular saves and defense stood solid in the first half. But Bangladesh looked miserable in the mid field and non-existed up front.
Few matters struck the writer. As a matter of strategy why Bangladesh national team had to appear against an under 23 team? Where is Bangladesh under 23 team? Why the same team could not appear as BFF President eleven or any other name? Does it sound good that Japanese youths toyed with Bangladesh National team? Is it not a disgrace? Do we have self-esteem?
Why the match was played on a surface which was not at all suitable for an international match? The stadium was partially full. In the past any major domestic match used to witness jam-packed Dhaka stadium. All roads used to lead there. From the lackluster performance of the local team it became apparent why soccer fans have turned their passion away from Bangladesh football. The visitors were vastly superior in physical strength, quality of football, energy and stamina. They had to struggle a great deal in adjusting with the uneven surface .But at no stage Bangladesh could even create any contest .Not a single goal bound attack pathetic Bangladeshis could generate .The match was monotonously one sided with ball mostly confined in Bangladesh half . Bangladesh could hardly advance into Japanese section of the field excepting some stray rebounds. The tall strong Japanese defenders cut out anything and every that came their way. Bangladesh defense including the goal keeper had their works cut out. Goal keeper alone saved at least half a dozen Japanese moves poignant with scoring potential.
The reason that Bangladesh could keep goal hungry Japanese goal getters at bay in the first half was partially due to Japanese finding it difficult in adjusting with bumpy uneven surface and resolute defending of the local goal keeper . The second half was however one way traffic with Bangladesh not even getting any opportunity to unleashing a single friendly fire at Japanese goal.
We read local teams winning regional tournaments. How that happens? My sports writer friends and some senior footballers advised some better quality foreign recruits of the local teams are keys to that success. But I have feeling that the standards of football in the SAARC countries must have gone down from what we used to see in 1970s and 1980s. Bangladesh team lacked energy, had no steam after first half. Japanese youth took the wind out of their sail and they became virtually pedestrian. It was shocking to see some players were falling down on the ground even without any physical contacts. The memories of Monem Munna , Kaiser Hamid , Manju , Tutul , Nanno, Amalesh, Salahuddin , Hafiz, Enayet , Aslam ,Salam , Nowsher Mohsin , Wasim , Sabbir , Chunnu appeared to me a fairy tale when watching the diabolic display of Bangladesh team.
My friends Nazmul Amin Kiron, Sanaul Huq Khan could not give me any clue where Bangladesh football was heading. There has been some visible changes in the galleries, facilities, VIP and VVIP enclosures, Press Box. But the playing surface looked terrible and quality of football Bangladesh team displayed was awful. I heard most ordinary players in Dhaka football can earn millions in the much disorganized local football. It hurts the writer to even comprehend what is going wrong? One of the best players ever to play football in Bangladesh Quazi Salahuddin is leading Bangladesh football. Some leading players of the past Badal Roy, Slam Murshidi are his lieutenants. This writer a few months back had opportunity to witness an electronic media interview of BFF president Salahuddin. He was urging footballers for commitment, for discipline. We are told commitment and passions of Bangladeshis footballers have almost evaporated. Players are hardly pushed to develop individual skills; there are hardly any accountability at any stage of local football. Domestic football infrastructure, grass root development of local talent is nonexistent.
This writer now lives in Australia who now leads the Asia Pacific Nation in World Stage . Soccer is not at all the preferred game in Australia. Still the very nature of competitiveness in anything that Australia does makes Soccer team compete so well even in FIFA World Cup in any appearance. Bangladesh will struggle to save face if any of the second grade team from Australia even comes to play in Bangladesh. Bangladesh needs to address basic fundamentals, develop stamina, energy, basic skills, and change body language if they want to even regain competitiveness. Salahuddin has a vision to qualify for World Cup 2022. With what this writer saw yesterday it appears a wild dream. I hope smart cookie understands his challenges and will try to first find out what is not right in his own set up and then set his goal as he moves with Bangladesh football. He needs to regenerate competitiveness in local football, completely overhaul domestic football format, and concentrate more on age group football, school football. BFF can take a clue from Belgium. That country carried out extensive domestic football restructuring over the last decade.
I thought Bangladesh football is going through a mini crisis now. It is no longer the preferred game for Bangladeshi youth. Admirers have turned their back on local football. But everything is not lost yet. I can very understand the issues and challenges of Bangladesh football A very talented group of Bangladesh footballers of yester years have washed off their hands from Bangladesh Football. Salahuddin must endeavor for bringing them together. Time is not going to wait for anyone. Nobody remains indispensable for anyone forever. I appeal to everyone; every single football lovers of Bangladesh to put their hands up and contribute whatever they can to salvage the sinking ship of Bangladesh football to drag it to the shore at least for a new start to a new journey. The present state of Bangladesh football must hurt genuine lovers of Bangladesh football.