Dhaka, Sept 3 (UNB) - The coaches and players of all the participating teams are eager to give their best in the field during the seven-nation 12th SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 beginning at Bangabandhu National Stadium here Tuesday to bring glory for their nations.
Pakistan will play Nepal in the opening match at 4pm while hosts Bangladesh will lock horns with Bhutan in the opening day’s 2nd match at 7pm at the same venue.
Addressing a pre-match conference at the BFF House on Monday, Bangladesh Coach Jamie Day said, “For the last four months, we’ve been focusing on the tournament and toured Qatar, Korea and Indonesia. The boys are fully prepared for the challenges. We want to play a good brand of football.”
“We’re the hosts and people have huge expectations upon the team but we are not taking any pressure. We want to play our best football against Bhutan in the opener. We are not thinking about any revenge or something like that. We are focused to play match by match and move forward,” he added.
Jamie Day said they will adopt a strategy of a new captain in a new match.
Bangladesh have won one, drew one and lost one against Bhutan in the SAFF Championships till date.
Senior player-cum-defender of Bangladesh team Nasiruddin Chowdhury said, “Bangladesh won the SAFF Championship back in 2003. We want to repeat the feat and rewrite the history and all the players are ready to give more than cent percent in their own yard and in front of their own people.”
Bhutan Head Coach Trevor Morgan said, “Hosts Bangladesh are the favourite in the opener but Bhutan will be relying on the firepower of their young guns. They are roaring to go. Bhutan have gone through hardworking sessions focusing upon playing better football.”
“We want to change the perception of what people think. We will be taking the field to win. There are 17 new players in the squad who are eager to show their prowess. We eye a semifinal slot.” he added.
Bhutanese captain Karma Shedrup said, “Bhutan respects Bangladesh but are not afraid. The team has taken the required preparations for the SAFF Championship and will be fighting till the end. The young team has the firepower to surprise any team and they want to prove their worth in the field.”
Addressing the newsmen, Nepalese coach and former famed booter Bal Gopal Maharjan said Nepal won its first international title in 23 years beating nine-man Bahrain 3-0 in the final of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka in January 2016, eying another jewel in his crown.
“We have not yet won the SAFF title, so why not target the title this time? We have prepared well for the last three months and the conditions and the rivals are known to us. I am satisfied with the player’s response and now we are ready to fight eyeing the title,” he added.
Captain of Nepal Biraj Maharjan said, “Nepal team have a mixture of youth and experienced players and are a confident team believing in their own prowess. We are a bunch of motivated group and the spirit is high. Nepal definitely wants to win the title.”
Brazilian Coach of Pakistan Jose Antonio Nogueira said, “Pakistan has been out of the international circuit for four years and it’s not possible to remove the vacuum out within a short span of time. But the recent proceedings are encouraging as Pakistan beat Nepal in the Asian Games. However, the level is different here but Pakistan looks forward a good show in the tournament. We believe we can reach the knockout stage.”
Pakistan captain Saddam Hossain said, “There are six players who played the last edition of the SAFF Championship and there are some newcomers though Pakistan was out of the international circuit for last few years. But we are not looking back; rather we are looking forward to put a good show and return to the track.”
Coaches and captains of the Maldives and Sri Lanka also said they were well-prepared to show their best performance in the tournament.
No one from India appeared at the press conference.