Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Match sure, all else up in the air

A lack of a decisive decision from the Celebrity Management Group (CMG), the Kolkata-based event management firm that is brokering the Argentina friendly match in Bangladesh is threatening to put the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) in a real mess.
“At the moment the only thing that I can say is that the match between Argentina and Nigeria will take place at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on September 6. But apart from that I can’t confirm other things including the open practice session of Argentina that has been slated for September 4 or the official dinner on the same day,” said a visibly frustrated BFF president Kazi Salahuddin at his Motijheel office yesterday.
The inexplicable delay has already deprived the BFF of earning quite a significant amount as the sponsor of the official dinner has backed out of their deal. And if a decision over the open practice session is further delayed, the BFF is set to face another significant setback. In this situation the worst fear is that if the open training session of Argentina, scheduled to take place the Fatullah Stadium, is eventually cancelled then many football fans, who could not afford to buy expensive match-day tickets, will miss the chance to catch a glimpse of football sensation Lionel Messi for a less expensive price.
The BFF boss looked at a loss after being confronted with a volley of questions from reporters who even feared that Argentina might not arrive in Dhaka on September 3 from Kolkata. Many referred to news from across the border that cited that Argentina might only come to Dhaka on September 5, the day that Nigeria will also fly into the capital.
“As far as I’m concerned, Argentina will come to Dhaka on September 3. It is true that we are now sitting on the edge over the delay of the decision. But we are maintaining constant communications with the CMG, said Salahuddin. He also added that the CMG was having a meeting with Argentina, who arrived in Kolkata yesterday morning to play their first international friendly against Venezuela at the Salt Lake Stadium on September 3.
But the long wait seemed unbearable and the mood was rightly portrayed at the BFF Bhaban where a tinge of uncertainty prevailed despite frantic activities on a day that happened to be the last working day before the country goes on Eid vacation.
The BFF boss, who had to endure a lot of hassles ever since he signed the agreement with CMG over the high-profile Argentina-Nigeria international football friendly, however, put up a brave face in the adversity.
Asked how long he is going wait for a decision, the BFF boss replied philosophically.
“As long as my patience holds,” he said.
“I’m not sure whether I would say that I feel betrayed. But everything I have done including the tripartite deal that involved Beximco, the BFF and the CMG was done in good faith. It was a very simple deal where our demand was an open practice of Argentina and an official dinner on the sidelines of the match. And we did not even consider about any penalty clause because we never thought that things would be as complicated as it now stands,” said the hapless BFF boss.
It has been a battle against the tide for Salahuddin, who considered that a Messi-led Argentina trip to Bangladesh for the first time, would be a dream comes true for our football. Things had not been as rosy as he expected with response from ticket sales not up to the mark. The high price for tickets might be a reason for the lukewarm response, but there were other problems over meeting the desired standard of venues with an advance team of Argentina clearly showing dissatisfaction over the facilities of the BNS and Fathullah. However, a late renovation work is set to fulfill the demand for the desired standard.
“It has been a hell of a struggle. But I won’t mind that if my dream is fulfilled. It is just not bringing Messi or Argentina to Bangladesh. It is about showing the world that this is a better place to play football. Besides, I’m excited about the fact that this match will open up the door for a golden generation of footballers in our country,” said Salahuddin.

-With The Daily Star input

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