In a bid to keep their hopes alive for FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, Bangladesh football team will lock horns with Qatar in Group E fixture at Doha’s Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium on Friday. The match is scheduled to kick off at 10:00 pm BDST.
In what promises to be a thrilling encounter, 1,800 tickets have been made available for football fans to watch the first Asian Qualifiers match to be played in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic having forced the postponement of fixtures scheduled in March and June.
In pen and paper, the Qataris are favourites. However, Jamal Bhuyan and Co. will be eager to step up and prove a point against their Qatari counterpart. Bangladesh have showcased before that they were capable of getting results against top oppositions as a 1-1 draw with India in October last year certainly points that out.
On top of that, Qatar come into this game but are not the best of form. They lost two of their last three matches and have drawn one. Therefore, Friday’s match will surely be a tight affair between the two teams.
Jamie Day’s side, who are bottom of the standings with a solitary point, last played competitively when they lost 4-1 to Oman in ‘Group E’ action in November, 2019.
However, Bangladesh have sought to regain fitness in recent weeks following a nationwide shutdown due to the pandemic, with Jamie Day’s side facing off twice in ‘Mujib Borsho’ FIFA friendlies against Nepal last month, winning the first game 2-0 before the teams shared a 0-0 draw.
The victory over the Nepalese was Bangladesh’s second success in 2020, having picked up a 3-0 win over Sri Lanka in the Bangabandhu Gold Cup friendly tournament in Dhaka in January. However, Jamie Day knows his team are facing a stern challenge against the Asian champions.
Meanwhile, a draw will be enough for Qatar to confirm their place at the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals. The winners of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup lead the standings with 13 points from their first five games and, with a nine-point lead over third placed Afghanistan and three matches remaining, the Qataris know a solitary point will secure a top two finish in the group and qualification for the Finals.
Coach Sanchez has named a strong squad for his side’s first competitive game in 2020, which comes just three weeks after Qatar slipped to a 2-1 loss at the hands of Korea Republic in a friendly in Austria, the third match without a win for the FIFA World Cup 2022 hosts.
The game will be Qatar’s first competitive match since losing 1-0 to Saudi Arabia in the semi-final of the Gulf Cup in December last year, while Bangladesh have not played in official competition for even longer due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.