Bangladesh football team returned home on Wednesday after playing a commendable 1-1 draw against upper-ranked India in their World Cup 2022 qualifiers in a highly-anticipated contest at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
The draw helped Bangladesh open their account in the qualifying campaign and silenced doubters, who were reluctant to credit them despite the fighting spirit they showed in the previous two matches, respectively against Qatar and Afghanistan.
Forward Saad Uddin stunned India with a header from a Jamal Bhuyan free-kick minutes before half-time and Bangladesh nearly defended the goal only for midfielder Adil Khan to score an equalizer at the fag-end of the contest.
The draw put India’s chance of qualifying in the second round difficult and gave Bangladesh a huge confidence boost going forward into the campaign.
While the team may seemed to be happy with one point, upon return from Kolkata goal scorer Saad said that they played for a win.
‘Actually when we took the ground, we wanted to win the game. Whoever would get the chance would score. I got the chance and utilized it and I am happy. The feeling would have been better if we had won,’ he said.
‘We performed according to our plan, the team combination is good,’ said Abahani striker Saad, adding that they were not thinking too far at this stage and would take the remaining matches as they come.
‘We will go ahead playing match-by-match. And follow the coach’s instruction,’ he said.
Bangladesh coach Jamie Day, an Arsenal youth team graduate, successfully managed to instill self-belief in the team and made them technically solid, which was proved in their game.
Bangladesh did not give an inch to India in defense and went for counter-attack whenever an opportunity came exposing the hosts’ backline several times.
Defender Yeasin Khan, who played almost 90 minutes with an injured head, did an outstanding job while winger Mohammad Ibrahim posed constant threat for India down the left flank and made a goal-line clearance in the second half to show his all-round ability.
Skipper Jamal played his role as holding midfielder perfectly, occasionally going forward to create chances while the other players also showed a previously unseen commitment to leave India fairly awestruck.
‘I think we played extremely well. All credit goes to the players. They stayed with game plan. We look disappointed to be, we could not win the game. The boys’ were fantastic,’ coach Day said at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
‘We had a couple of chances, the second one was on the line, that would have been game over but they defended well,’ he added.
‘They had good chances as well. We defended them well. We conceded from set-piece, just unlucky, we could not hold for the final four, five minutes…The boys showed different types of level that away from home in front of thousands of people,’ said Day.
After the draw, Bangladesh are now unbeaten against India in their last three matches and they were in a winning position on each occasion.
In their last meeting in 2014, Sunil Chhetri struck from a free-kick in 93 minutes to salvage a 2-2 draw while it was the turn of Hyderabad FC midfielder Adil to break the hearts of Bangladesh two minutes from the stoppage time.
Day took no offence in the draw in an away game and also refused to blame Bangladesh forwards for their lack of finishing ability.
‘We conceded a goal in the end, for me [it was] the best performance by Bangladesh players. From the first minute to the end they were fantastic, showed attitude, worked extremely hard. They did more than what was asked,’ he said.
‘I don’t think it’s a lack of finishing, everyone played their part. Obviously disappointed we could not get the second goal. If you look at the whole game, they [India] also played really well,’ he said.
Former Bangladesh players also hailed the result as good as a win given that it came in an away match in a packed stadium, something that many of Bangladesh’s current generation of players have never seen.
‘I think, it’s almost a win for us. We took the lead and they [India] were forced to level for a draw. We dominated the game at the Salt Lake before huge crowds,’ said former national player Abdul Gaffar, who also praised the fitness of the players.
‘This Bangladesh is more matured, they have the quality to play full ninety minutes… in the past Bangladesh could play well up to sixty minutes, but under Jamie [Day] they can play full ninety minutes,’
‘I observed their mental development under Jamie. We can depend on him after watching matches against India and Qatar,’ he said.
Source: New Age.