Bangladesh national team coach Lodewijk de Kruif on Friday announced a 23-member squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifying match against reigning Asian Cup champions, Australia, scheduled in Perth on September 3. The squad will also play a friendly match against Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur on August 29 as part of their preparation for the match.Kruif, suspended in the dugout for Australia game, will accompany the team both in Malaysia and Australia.
The Dutchman returned to Dhaka from Holland on August 17 to take charge of the national team and will begin the preparation camp from Sunday.
Kruif made five changes to his squad from the team that played against Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in June’s World Cup qualifying at home.
Right winger Zahid Hossain, defender Atiqur Rahman Meshu, midfielder Emon Babu and goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel returned to the team after missing the first two matches against Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on June 11 and 16 respectively.
Toklis Ahmed, the Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club forward, also made a comeback in the national team despite getting very little playing opportunity in the Bangladesh Premier League.
Midfielder Shahedul Alam, goalkeeper Mazharul Islam Hemel, defender Kesto Kumar, forward trio of Wahed Ahmed, Aminur Rahman Sazib and Towhidul Alam Sabuj and German-based expatriate Bangladeshi midfielder Reasat Islam have been dropped from the previous squad.
Abahani midfielder Shahedul withdrew himself due to a knee injury that he received in his left foot during the league match against Brothers Union.
Meanwhile, Jamal goalkeeper Hemel and defender Kesto had to leave the national team as Sohel and Meshu returned from injuries.
Kruif claimed he picked up the best possible team after assessing the players’ performances in the league though he was not here to monitor the matches.
‘It is the best choice we have,’ said the Dutchman, who is under contract with Bangladesh Football Federation to guide the national team on assignment basis.
Kruif defended his decision to include some players who didn’t play the league regularly.
‘I am not very happy to see some players didn’t play regularly,’ said the 45-year old coach.
‘But we picked them as do not have better options.’
‘I know Toklis [Ahmed] didn’t play regularly but I know his ability and he has a good future.
‘As well as Toklis, Wahed, Sazib and Rony also spent most of the time in the bench so we picked the best one among them.’
He believes that his charges will face a monumental task against the reigning Asian champions.
‘Australia brought some new players but I have to say they are a fantastic team and they are currently number one in Asia,’ said the coach.
‘It will be an incredible challenge for Bangladesh team to face the best side of Asia.’
Goalkeepers: Shahidul Alam Sohel, Russell Mahmud Liton and Ashraful Islam Rana; Defenders: Atiqur Rahman Meshu, Nasiruddin Chowdhury, Yeasin Khan, Yamin Chowdhury Munna, Rayhan Hasan, Topu Barman, Nasirul Islam Nasir and Mohammad Linkon; Midfielders: Mamunul Islam Mamun, Hemanta Vincent Biswas, Jamal Bhuiyan, Sohal Rana, Monayem Khan Raju, Emon Mahmud Babu and Zahid Hossain; Forwards: Zahid Hasan Ameli, Jewel Rana, Abdul Baten Komol, Enamul Haque and Toklis Ahmed.
-With New Age input