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The Bangladesh national team coach has issued a battle cry to his troops while keeping his expectations realistic...

Lodewijk de Kruif has played down the chances of his team winning the 10th edition of the SAFF championship being held in Nepal, while at the same time iterating that his team would look to win all their matches.

“We are outsiders along with Pakistan,” explained the coach humbly, to The Daily Star, accepting his teams position. “The favourites are India as they are well-organised and spend a lot of money. Nepal are playing at their home so they are strong too.”

“But don’t think that I don’t want to win. I’m a sportsman so I always like to win. Everybody in the team, in the BFF board worked very hard. Hopefully we will succeed in Nepal,” added the Dutch coach.


FIXTURES

Bangladesh have played a number of practice matches against weaker opposition and won handsomely. Yet, on the two occasions that they faced with stronger opposition, they were found horribly wanting. Notably their opponents were Sheikh Jamal DC and a Thai side. This could be a reason why the coach had ensconced a more realistic approach to the tournament.

“I’m not going to talk about a final place or semi-final or whatever. Of course we go there to win our games as we are sportsmen. We do our best because we have very talented players, talented team. We want to fight for the country. We don’t want to disappoint anyone so we will give everything we can,” expolated de Kruif.

The coach, while highlighting the effort his team had taken to be at cutting edge of fitness for this tournament, stressed that his team would be pulling the leisure lever and would not excessively strain themselves, though aiming to be soundly fit physically and mentally.

A boost to the coach will definitely be the availability of Mamunul Islam, the Bangladesh team captain, who’d been injured in the match against Sheikh Jamal.

“Two days ago things were bad as I got injured and there was a lot of pain. I thought I may not go to Nepal. But after two days of rest I feel fine. Team and coaches supported me. MRI, CT scan revealed nothing serious. I will be going to Nepal,” elucidated the Skipper before his the contingent left for Nepal on the 25th of this month.

Rezul Islam has been dropped from the squad of 21. Bangladesh’s itenary reveals they play Nepal on the 31st of August, before facing India on September the 3rd, rounding off their group campaign with a match against foes Pakistan on the 5th of September.  

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh team have completed their first training session in Nepal at the Army Sports Training Facility. Overseen by the Dutch coach and his fitness expert, the entire squad took part, except Manamul Islam and Sohel Rana, who were under the conditioning coaches orders to focus only on light training, on account of their recent injury problems.

 

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