Mamunul stays brave ahead of Afghanistan clash in SAFF Championship

Mamunul stays brave ahead of Afghanistan clash in SAFF Championship

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Bangladesh are keen to beat the Afghans to get their mission of winning the competition off to a solid start, the captain told bdnews24.com Tuesday.The tournament is set to start in Kerala on Wednesday.Bangladesh have been pitted in Group B against Afghanistan, the Maldives and Bhutan.They will kick off their campaign against the reigning champions on Thursday before taking on the Maldives and Bhutan on Dec 26 and 28, respectively.Bangladesh won the competition only once in 2003.Mamunul feels Afghanistan, who are ranked 150th by FIFA, are favourites against Bangladesh (182th) but his team’s recent experience will make the contest even.”The Afghans are a good team. I’ve seen many videos of their matches. This is the same team that played in the (2018) World Cup qualifiers, even the same coach.”(But) we’ve played several big matches recently. The matches against Australia, Jordan and Kyrgyzstan are giving us motivation.”Having played those matches, we are no longer fearful. They are a good team, we are too. They play power football; we are good tactically.”The men in green and red lost all the matches in the later stage of the World Cup qualifiers, including two home and away thumping at the hands of the Socceroos.Bangladesh, however, edged Nepal 1-0 in a friendly at the Bangabandhu National Stadium last Thursday.Coach Maruful Haque himself had criticised his apprentices for their attitude in the match but the skipper claimed the team had adopted a more fearless approach for the SAFF Cup. “We had little time to prepare. But we have somewhat changed our mentality by doing in practice things that are necessary to win a tournament. A winning mentality is most crucial for success.”We lost the last matches (of World Cup qualifiers). The win against Nepal had come after a year. Our players now have a winning mentality. The courage in the team can bring us victory.”Coach Maruful thinks all the teams have equal chance to win the tournament.”This (SAFF Championship) is the biggest event of this region. The boys have worked hard; prepared themselves physically and mentally. I think the tournament will be open to all.”bdnews24.com

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