India’s goalless draw against Qatar will serve as a big motivation for lowly-ranked Bangladesh when they face the Asian Cup champions in their World Cup qualifiers in Dhaka on Thursday, coach James Day said.
The 187th ranked Bangladesh take on the Group E leaders Qatar at home in their toughest encounter before heading to Kolkata to take on India at the Saltlake Stadium here on October 15.
Last month, India secured the biggest result under Igor Stimac when their defence gave a good account of themselves in the absence of Sunil Chhetri to hold the 2022 World Cup hosts for a goalless draw.
India, thus, became the first Asian side to avoid a a defeat against Qatar in the current year.
“We have watched numerous clips on Qatar to give us some help and motivation. I think the India game shows in football if you can defend well and get a bit of luck anything us possible,” Bangladesh chief coach Day told PTI from Dhaka on the eve of their match against Qatar at the National Stadium.
He also had words of praise for India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who wore the captain’s arm-band in Chhetri’s absence and made numerous saves.
“I think India defended well and Gurpreet made some great saves along with a little bit of luck,” the 40-year-old Englishman said.
Laid low by illness, Chhetri had to sit out of the drawn game against Qatar but the captain will be back to take charge come October 15 and the former Arsenal trainee said he would be a big threat for his side.
“Chhetri will be a threat. We will focus on all players. We are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Chhetri is a good striker so he will need to be watched carefully,” the former Ebbsfleet and Welling manager said.
As for stats, India enjoy a commanding 15-2 win-loss record in 28 meetings but Bangladesh have managed to stay unbeaten in their last two fixtures (1-1 in SAFF Championships, 2013 and 2-2 in International friendly, 2014).
But the Englishman is aware of the ground reality against the Igor Stimac-coached Indian side, who are currently 104 in the world as against Bangladesh’s 187th rank.
“I think it will be a different game from the past as Indian football has made big improvements in last few years but we are looking forward to the match and playing in Kolkata,” Day said.
“I think there has been huge investment in Indian football and because of this it has benefited the national team.”
Against Qatar, it promises to a one-sided contest considering that the Group E leaders are ranked 125 places above Bangladesh on the Fifa World Ranking.
And their head-to-head record adds further weight to Qatar, who boast of two wins and a draw in their past three meetings, all in AFC Asian Cup qualifying.
Bangladesh lost to Afghanistan by a solitary-goal in the opener and Day’s boys are keen to prove themselves in front of home supporters.
“We have had a good training camp with two good friendly wins [against Bhutan 4-1 and 2-0] and we look forward to the Qatar match tomorrow,” the coach said.
“We have made great strides with a young team who are still developing and they are making impression on the Bangladesh people,” Day, who has taken charge about 14 months ago, concluded.