By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata, Oct 14 (IANS) Bangladesh skipper Jamal Bhuyan on Monday said their Group E Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup tie here against India is a ‘great opportunity’ for them to show why the stakeholders need to invest more in football like India has done in the past few years.
Bhuyan said the popularity and success of cricket has overshadowed football in Bangladesh but a good performance in front of 65,000 spectators at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Tuesday can help bring to the fore why football also needs investors to promote the sport.
“Success of cricket team maybe overshadowed a little bit football. But you can’t compare cricket with football. Although cricket is a big sport here, I don’t think about cricket I think about football all the time,” Bhuyan told reporters on the eve of the tie.
“It is a great opportunity to develop football in Bangladesh like India have done to get big companies to invest in football. Tomorrow is a great opportunity for us to show Bangladesh that we also need to invest like India have done in their last few years,” said the 29-year-old defensive midfielder who was born in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Bangladesh have lost both their fixtures in the qualifying campaign so far, but gave a good account of themselves against Asian champions Qatar on October 10, losing 0-2 eventually.
Ranked 187 in the world to India’s 104, the Jamie Day coached side drew their last match against India and Bhuyan said the battle will be won in midfield when the two outfits clash.
“Whoever wins the midfield battle has the better chance to win the match. Midfield creates the chances.”
India are missing defensive mainstay Sandesh Jhingan and holding midfielder Rowllin Borges due to injury and suspension respectively.
Asked if that is an advantage, Bhuyan said: “Of course they are missing two important players. We have to create chances and try to score. It’s all about confidence.”
Bhuyan said the pressure will be on the home team who are coming on the back of a 0-0 draw against Qatar in Doha last month.
“No pressure on us, the pressure is on India as if they don’t win the fans will be after them. I am going to tell my boys to go there and give their best. But yes India are favourites.”
Bangladesh coach Jamie Day, meanwhile rued the dearth of infrastructure in their country.
“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,” said the Englishman.
Bangladesh have looked an improved side under Day’s coaching as they won seven of their 13 international matches since May 2018.
“If I were a player I would have looked forward to play in front of such a crowd. 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,” said Day referring to all the tickets being sold out for the game.