Sunday, February 25, 2024

Lebanon too serious despite advantage

With one foot already in the main qualification round, Lebanon vowed to take Bangladesh seriously when they take on the hosts in the second round second leg match of the World Cup pre-qualifies in Dhaka on Thursday.
A buoyant Lebanon team arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday knowing that all they have to do is to avoid a defeat by less than four-goal margin and they will be through to the main draw featuring top 20 Asian sides.
Lebanon beat Bangladesh 4-0 in their home leg meaning the hosts will have to do a miracle at the Bangabandhu National Stadium to overcome the deficit and deny Lebanon a place in the main qualification round.
Lebanon, nevertheless, remained very serious. They sweated it out for one hour at the BUET ground on Tuesday afternoon, though their coach had to take an extra care for his boys to avoid injury in the rough field. 
‘I did see the pitch which may cause injuries to my players and skipped the training. I don’t think it is a football ground,’ lamented Lebanon coach Emile Rustom after just doing some stretching exercises in the ground.
Bangladesh, however, had no problem in practising with the ball at the same ground.
Asked if they were expecting another easy win over Bangladesh, Rustom said:  ‘We forgot the match of Beirut and we have a new game here and we have to be careful.’
The Lebanon squad have three foreign-based players who play in China, Germany, Myanmar and Cyprus though the coach said they have already allowed the China-based midfielder to go back to China to keep his club commitment.
The hot and humid condition in Dhaka is also not a problem for Lebanon team who are quite accustomed to playing in this situation at their home.
‘It is a very good condition. We have similar condition in Beirut, even the temperature in our country rises over 40 degree Celsius, so condition will not trouble us,’ said the coach.
Rustom has no shortage of respect for Bangladesh though he believes the bunch of young players that they took in Lebanon can only be a good prospect in future. 
‘You have a very good team for future as they are much organised and tactically disciplined side.’
Bangladesh’s Macedonian coach Nikola Ilievski, however, does not have the same faith in his charges. He rather appeared confused about the abilities of some of the Bangladeshi players.
‘Our players are very weak in one-on-one situation; even they do fear to go for charge and also do fear to go into attack. I don’t know why they feel such panic,’ said Ilievski, who was the first man to arrive at the practice ground before any player turned up.
Ilievski also blamed the players that they gave much space to the opposition players to have mustered shot on the target in Beirut.
The 56-year-old doesn’t want to say anything about the second leg match but he believes the task would be very difficult for the home side as Lebanon are ahead of Bangladesh – physically, tactically and technically.

-With New Age input

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