Visiting Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa on Monday hailed Bangladesh’s recent progress in women’s football and hoped that men’s national team would come out of its ongoing bad patch sooner or later. ‘Bangladesh is improving in women’s football. We all saw Bangladesh’s Under-16 women’s played in the U-16 final round. You have a very good Under-19 team as well,’ Salman said in Dhaka on Monday.
Speaking to reporters at the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) House, Salman, who came on a two-day visit after attending FIFA Under-17 World Cup final in neighbouring Kolkata, said that countries like Bangladesh got the ability do a lot better and ‘for a country of 170 million, the only way is up.’
Salman’s first visit to Bangladesh as AFC president coincided country’s tough time as the national team slipped to 196th in FIFA rankings, having failed to qualify for the qualifying round of Asian Cup.
Despite some successes at the age-level and women’s football, the office bearers of BFF are being criticised heavily for their inability to run the show the way it should be.
However, Salman, the beaten candidate in last year’s FIFA president election, gave his vote of confidence to three times BFF president Kazi Salahuddin to take Bangladesh‘s football out of abysmal.
‘Your teams have been participating in all AFC competitions, which showed your commitment to developing the sports in the country. We are working with you and your administration to see what can be done,’ said Salman, also a former Bahrain Football Association president.
Salman remembered Bangladesh’s good old days and hoped they would get back their glory time enduring the ongoing bad patch.
‘When I was made the Bahrain FA president in 1996, we played our first friendly against Otto Pfister’s Bangladesh. We had to work hard to get a result that time. I am sure this can be repeated as there are talents here,’ he said.
Bangladesh national team is without any international match for more than year but age-level teams participated in almost all regional competitions, occasionally bringing good results. Coaches often complained about the lack of talents, a blame which BFF also shifted on local clubs.
As the BFF failed to run an academy at the national level, officials often said the clubs should share the responsibility because it was mostly their duty. Salman borrowed the words from BFF to provide the officials a shield.
‘The FA has responsibility and the clubs have also some responsibility to run the show,’ he said. ‘You can’t expect the association to run football academies. It has to come from the clubs because clubs can create a league on their own for the young.
‘The success depends on the clubs’ base and club structure and development at the grassroots level because, at the end of the day, they are the futures of your team,’ Salman said.
AFC general secretary Dato Windsor John Paul among others attended the press conference.
-With New Age input