After a disappointing start to their World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign against Afghanistan, Bangladesh are now up against two of the strongest teams in the Group E, Qatar and India.
The Red and Green side travel to Doha to take on the Asian Champions on October 10 followed by a clash against neighbours India on October 15 in Kolkata.
The Bangladesh team has had a rollercoaster ride in the last one year since British Jamie Day has taken over the side the head coach in May 2018.
While they failed to produce good results in the SAFF Championship and Bangabandhu Cup which were hosted by Bangladesh, the Red and Green have won international friendly matches against teams like Laos and Cambodia.
Under Jamie Day’s tutelage, Bangladesh have played 10 international matches so far out of which they have won five and lost four.
Day, an Arsenal academy graduate, began his professional career with the Gunners in 1997 but left the club after two years due to lack of playing time. He began his managerial career with Welling United in 2009 where he was appointed as the player-manager. After spending nine years managing several English clubs, Day got an offer from the Bangladesh football federation and he grabbed it with both hands.
The 40-year-old coach, during a chat with Goal, revealed that he seeks some inspiration from the legendary Arsene Wenger and mixes it with his own philosophy while managing clubs.
He said, “I think I have taken parts of what I learnt from Arsene Wenger and added it to my coaching ideas and beliefs and how players should be treated.”
“It was chance to manage at the international level and try to develop a country that had been struggling to perform at that level. It was also about working with different players and mentalities and to try and improve them as players and a team,” said Day on his decision to join Bangladesh.
Day has set a very sensible target for his team in the World Cup qualifying stage. When asked about Bangladesh’s realistic target in the competition, the young coach said, “I think we would have liked a better result against Afghanistan but the performance was pleasing against a team a lot higher in the rankings. It will be a tough group but the experience our young team will get from this will help us in the future.”
Bangladesh have played some tough opponents in the last one year in their bid to prepare for this qualifying campaign. They had faced teams like Philippines and Palestine in the Bangabandhu Cup in 2018 hosted by Bangladesh and had good learning. They recently travelled to Tajikistan and played a couple of friendly matches against the local clubs.
On facing quality oppositions, Day opined, “I think we want to play as many countries as possible to help us grow as a team and perform hopefully better against bigger national teams going forward.”
Jamie Day is being assisted by his compatriot Stuart Watkiss, a name is familiar in India. Watkiss was in charge of former I-League club Bharat FC in the 2015-16 season.
The Bangladesh head coach agreed that Watkiss’ experience of working in Indian football will certainly help the team’s preparation against India.
Day said, “Yes, with Stuart working in India has helped with our preparation knowing the players and how they play which will hopefully help us.”
The Briton was all praises for India ahead of the match and applauded the Blue Tigers’ performance in their last two matches against Oman and Qatar. “I think they have done well in the last two games and over the last few years made good progress both at the domestic level and at the national team level,” said Day.
He also heaped praise on Indian head coach Igor Stimac saying, “I don't know Igor personally but the players seem to enjoy playing for him. It will be good to test myself against him and I am looking forward to meeting him.”