At the press conference yesterday, Coach Lodewijk de Kruif sternly played down our chances of winning against Nepal. They are the host country and playing the home team is always intimidating. Add 30 thousand passionate Nepali football fans packed in the Dasharath Stadium and you have yourself the 12th man. His pessimistic outlook came to life as Bangladesh were 2-0 down after 30 minutes. While the history maker Jamal Bhuiyan was trying to make a breakthrough, the defense was astray and everyone failed to see any sign of “total voetball” in our style. At best, it was English. Long balls were played which weren’t received well and we lost the ball where we shouldn’t have. The strike force lost urgency and putting Rony out for Meshu did not get that last grasp goal that we craved. The upside was we could have been humiliated 4-0 if it weren’t for the heroics of our goal keeper Mamun Khan.
Bangladesh lacked the finesse and pace of the midfielder, the possessive football that LDK craves to play only usually comes to light when Mamunul is present. Mamunul’s absence left a massive hole in us dominating them and Nepal took full advantage of that.
Mamun Khan on the other hand had a blinder. While both goals came from set pieces and defensive gaffs, Mamun saved us from humiliating ourselves even more. 66st minute Nepal attacks from an Anil Gurung ball but Mamun Khan brilliantly smacks the ball out as captain Naser stumbles and loses balance. On the 74th minute Mamun displays his brilliance again as he clears an Anil Gaurung header. Arif at fault with the ball. Around the 90th minute mark he put himself in a position where he almost broke his leg but managed to scramble and hold onto the ball. Taklis was another talking point as he had some great chances to bury the ball but failed to shoot.
Head coach Lodewijk de Kruif looked disappointed as expected and said Nepal got the revenge (for knocking them out of the AFC Challenge Cup) they wanted. About the defense he stated you can’t win anywhere in the world if you don’t have your defense sorted. He also put it forward that we can still qualify (if we beat Pakistan and India) and our focus will be on the matches ahead. He is not the type put his players infront of the hairdryer, he prefers discussing what went wrong and motivating them to do better.
Here’s hoping Mamunul is fit for the next match.
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