• Friday, October 31, 2014

Booters against familiar foes

Sports Reporter

Bangladesh face a familiar challenge in the 17th Asian Games football competition after they were drawn in Group B along with SAFF Champions Afghanistan yesterday.

In the four-team group Uzbekistan and Hong Kong are the other two opponents against whom the Bangladesh U-23 team will meet in the second successive Asian Games after the last edition in China in 2010.

Bangladesh's first game will be against Hong Kong, who won the last meeting 4-1, on September 15. Their next game is on September 18 against Uzbekistan, who won 3-0 in China four years ago. Bangladesh's last group league game against Afghanistan is on September 22.

Bangladesh have so far played 19 matches in the Asiad and won only two -- against Nepal in 1986 and Malaysia in 1982 -- but have never crossed the group stage hurdle.

This time around Bangladesh's assistant Dutch coach Rene Koster, who will be in charge in the absence of his compatriot and coach Lodewijk de Kruif, sees a slim chance for his side to progress into the 16-team knock-out stage.

"If you want to know about Bangladesh's chance, then I will say every team has a chance to go to the second round. But the reality is that Bangladesh have 30 per cent chance to advance to the next level from a group where our opponents are very strong," Koster told reporters yesterday.

Koster said the boys are in good spirit. However, his immediate focus is to work on Uzbekistan and Hong Kong whom he knows little compared to Afghanistan.

Captain Mamunul Islam said he would love to return home with at least three points.

"The opponents are always strong in the Asian Games. But we will love to beat Afghanistan and be trying to push Hong Kong hard," said Maumnul.

The 17th edition of the continental sporting extravaganza will start on September 19 in the South Korean city of Incheon. However, the football competition will commence from September 14.

Published: 12:00 am Friday, August 22, 2014

Last modified: 5:27 am Friday, August 22, 2014

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