Defender Ariful excluded on disciplinary ground
National team coach Lodewijk de Kruif left out five players to confirm his 23-member final squad for the Bangabandhu Cup shortly after winning a warm-up match over Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club by 3-1 on Sunday. De Kruif, who joined the national team on Saturday, excluded two defenders Ariful Islam and Mohammad Linkon, midfielder Atikur Rahman Fahad, two forwards Aminur Rahman Sajib and Rubel Miah from his final squad.
The sources inside the national team said that the coach ruled out Ariful, otherwise a dependable centre-back, on disciplinary ground.
Kruif benched Ariful for the warm-up match and asked him to be ready for taking the field about five minutes from time. However, the defender refused to take the field, arguing that he had ended his warm-up long before.
It was learned that Kruif had instructed Ariful to warm-up at the start of second half but did not show any urgency to send him to the field, which left the player infuriated.
Kruif will get only three days to prepare the team before the six- nation tournament, beginning with a match between Bangladesh-Malaysia Under-23 team at Sylhet on January 29.
Kruif kept his faith on forwards Wahed Ahmed and Toklis Ahmed instead of Sajib and Rubel and retained two late inclusions – midfielder Shahedul Alam Shahed and Abdul Baten Majumder Komol.
Shahed and Komol impressed during a warm-up match against Abahani, which the club side won 2-0.
However, Sheikh Jamal could not emulate Abahani and caved in easily much to the satisfaction of Kruif.
Veteran striker Zahid Hasan Ameli showed his form and class scoring the first two goals after an own goal of Didar handed the national team the lead.
Haitian forward Leonel Fainpreux, who joined the club’s trial just three days ago, pulled one goal back for the Dhanmondi-based outfit, who fielded six foreigners.
Before heading back to BKSP for the practice match, Kruif attended a press conference in Dhaka, promising to give his best to help the side qualify for the semi-final.
‘It doesn’t make a lot of difference whether the teams are senior or U-23,’ De Kruif told reporters.
‘It is not my concern that other countries are sending U-23 teams. I am busy with preparing my team. At the end of the day, it’s all about results.’
Captain Mamunul Islam said they are ready to face some strong opponents after spending three weeks in preparation camp at the BKSP, Savar.
‘We have done hard training in the past three weeks,’ said the midfielder.
‘We are mentally and physically strong now.
‘Though our fitness may not be at its best but it can be enough to maintain the same tempo throughout a game,’ he said.
Mamunul welcomed the inclusion of Kruif notwithstanding for a brief period as he claimed that the Dutchman has the power to motivate the team.
‘We missed the coach [Kruif]. His joining has made us inspired,’ said the 28-year old midfielder.
‘We have developed a good understanding with him by playing under his guidance for the last two years,’ he said.
Goalkeeper: Shahidul Alam Sohel, Russell Mahmud Liton and Mazharul Islam Himel; Defender: Atiqur Rahman Meshu, Nasiruddin Chowdhury, Yamin Ahmed Chowdhury, Rayhan Hasan, Yasin Khan, Tapu Barman and Nasirul Islam; Midfielder: Mamunul Islam, Jamal Bhuiyan, Zahid Hossain, Sohel Rana, Hemantha Vincent Biswash, Shahedul Alam Shahed, Abdul Baten Majumder and Monayem Khan Raju; Striker: Zahid Hasan Ameli, Mithun Chowdhury, Wahed Ahmed, Toklis Ahmed and Sakhwat Hossain Rony.
-With New Age input