Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuyan on Monday said his team is relishing the challenge of producing an upset win against favourites India, something that will give a big boost to the sport in the cricket-crazy country.
Bangladesh football is in dire need of investment and sponsorship as the league is facing structural problems. Bhuyan is hoping to bring a change in Bangladesh football by outsmarting hosts India in front of a sellout crowd at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday.
“If we win something will change in Bangladesh football. India have big companies supporting the sport but we lack in investment. So it’s a great opportunity to change that by showcasing what we have and attract big investments,” he said.
India will play their first international match in Kolkata after eight years when they take on Bangladesh, who are ranked 83 places below them in the FIFA rankings. Bhuyan said his team is ready to break the hearts of home fans in their World Cup group qualifier. “No pressure on us, the pressure is on India as if they don’t win the fans will be after them,” he said.
“I am going to tell my boys to go there and give their best. But yes India are favourites. I am going to break the Indian hearts tomorrow,” the Danish-born said on the eve of the match.
Sunil Chhetri will be back to lead the side after sitting out against Qatar where Gurpreet Singh Sandhu led the side with the defence putting up an impeccable show in their goalless draw. Bhuyan, a defensive midfielder, said the contest will centre around the midfield.
“This a big game because we have a history between the two countries and all the players from both camps are eager to play this game. Whoever wins the midfield battle has the better chance to win the match,” said the 29-year-old.
While India drew against Qatar in an away match, Bangladesh lost to the Asian champions 0-2 after putting up a valiant fight. “We missed many chances against Qatar. Even I missed some. But it is part of the game sometimes you win sometimes you lose. We have to be dedicated. We are improving and I see a bright future for Bangladesh. At the moment we have great confidence,” Bhuyan said.
Bangladesh coach Jamie Day also agreed that the team is all pumped up to put up a good fight against India. “I am very excited and happy to be here in the ‘City of Joy, the Mecca of Indian football’. Everyone is so excited to be here. If I were a player I would have looked forward to play in front of such a crowd,” he said.
“I told my players you might not get a chance to play again in front of such a crowd so make the most of it. I want them to be confident and play their natural game,” the Englishman said at the media interaction.
Day also pointed out that they lag behind India on league structure and the facilities. “From what I saw we are behind in terms of league structure. We don’t have proper academies. The equipment that the India team have we don’t have that. We are trying to change that. We have one or two clubs who are changing. It will not happen overnight, it will take some time,” Day said.