Veteran footballers Mamunul Islam and Wali Faisal on Monday announced their retirement from national team hours after their exclusion from the 23-member squad for Asian Cup Qualifiers play-offs against Bhutan. Bangladesh will face Bhutan today in the first-leg of the home-and-away match, which represents their last chance to qualify for the Asian Cup qualifying round.
Barring injury, Mamunul was a regular member of the national team since 2007 and has captained the side during their recent World Cup qualifying campaign and SAFF championship.
He was not part of the team that suffered a humiliating 0-5 loss to Maldives in the recently friendly.
The midfielder apparently paid the price for hue and cry that the loss prompted new coach Tom Saintfiet for some fresh blood for the crucial Bhutan tie.
‘I don’t know why I am not in the squad’, Mamunul told New Age on Monday.
‘I didn’t play the Maldives friendly and only got my full fitness for Bhutan match,’ he said.
Mamunul insisted that the coach was ‘wrong’ to discard him but added that he respected the decision.
‘I still believe that I’m better than any young players,’ he said. ‘But it’s better to say good bye now. I wished that I would retire after playing two matches against Bhutan as captain. But I didn’t get the chance.’
Saintfiet explained why he didn’t pick a number of senior players including Mamunul during pre-match press conference on Monday.
Saintfiet said Mamunul’s decision to leave the camp along with four other players to play a match for Bangladesh Navy played a major rule in his decision.
‘Mamunul is one of the best players of Bangladesh football. He has done a great job for the national team and I respect him,’ said Saintfiet.
‘But the problem started two weeks ago when five players including him [Mamunul] decided to leave the camp to play for the Navy team.
‘I cannot understand this. I have never in my life seen this. He returned from that game with an injury [front muscle injury in his left leg]. He didn’t help his country with that.’
Saintfiet preferred Arambagh Krira Sangha midfielder Mohammad Abdullah in place of Mamunul.
‘His replacement Abdullah did very well in the Maldives friendly and did exactly what I wanted,’ said coach.
Wali, Pranotosh Kumar, Yeamin Ahmed Chowdhury were the other players to get the axe.
Left-back Wali followed the suit soon by announcing his retirement from the international football.
‘Coach may have thought that I have nothing left to give the national team,’ said Wali, who made his debut for the national team in 2005.
‘I earned a lot by playing for Bangladesh and I wish the team good luck,’ he said.
-With New Age input