The youth hockey team cheers after winning the championship. As Maulana Bhasani entered the stadium with the trophy in his hand, Prince Lal looked like a feudal lord of state fatigue. Bangladesh won the Junior AHF (Asian Hockey Federation) Cup by beating Oman yesterday. When the players of Bangladesh U-21 team reached the hockey stadium with the champion trophy, everyone was in a hurry to return to the room.
After an 18-hour long flight, players, coaches, officials were all rushing to rest. It was supposed to be a five-hour flight from Muscat to Dhaka, but the team reached Dhaka quite late.
After the final from the stadium last night, the Bangladesh team hurriedly returned to the team hotel at 10 pm local time in Oman. Then the players boarded the plane at two o’clock in the morning. But due to thick fog, their plane could not land at Dhaka Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in the morning.
Then the players landed at Chittagong airport at 9:30 in the morning. After waiting for an hour from there, the plane took them to Sylhet airport. When the players returned to Dhaka from there, it was already late afternoon.
It was difficult for Bangladesh to win the Junior AHF Cup in Oman after only 20 days of practice. Still, coach Mamunur Rashid is happy to be the champion, ‘It was a challenge for us to become the champion in this tournament. Plans had to be arranged differently as I went with little preparation. Worked well on fitness, which is why the boys played in the same rhythm for 60 minutes.’
Bangladesh gave 28 goals to the opponent in 5 matches in the tournament. Oman scored more goals than Bangladesh in the competition. Oman scored 30 goals in 5 matches. However, national teams differ greatly from junior teams. As per the strength of hockey world ranking, Bangladesh is behind Oman. However, Bangladesh was ahead of other teams in this ranking.
Bangladesh is 29th in the ranking. Sri Lanka, who face Bangladesh in the group stage, are ranked 34th, Hong Kong 65th and Uzbekistan 66th. Only Oman is ahead of Bangladesh. Oman’s current ranking is 26th. Still, Mamunur is happy to beat Oman on Oman soil, ‘Oman is a good enough team. But our boys played fantastically in the tournament.
The top five teams from the Junior HF Cup will play in the Junior Asia Cup. The Junior Asia Cup will be held in Oman next June. Bangladesh confirmed the Asia Cup after reaching the semi-finals of the AHF Cup. In front of Bangladesh, playing in the Junior World Cup is also a challenge. The top four teams from the Asia Cup will play in the Junior World Cup next year. Coach Mamunur Rashid is dreaming of playing Bangladesh in the World Cup. But future plans should be done with more professionalism. This team is called the future national team. They all have the potential to do well. If we are in the top four of the Asia Cup, we can also play in the World Cup.
Skipper Prince Lal Samant has also set his sights on the World Cup after the Asia Cup, ‘The goal we went to Oman with has been successful. This time I want to continue the success of the Asia Cup and play in the World Cup.
For this, apart from the long-term camp, Mamunur wants to participate in more tournaments abroad, “I want this team to visit India for at least one month.” We will play more than 20 matches there. Then I can correct the mistakes of this tournament.
Oman has a seven-member coaching staff with its junior team. But the coaching staff of Bangladesh team is only two. Mamnoor complained about this too, “We don’t have any physio, video analyst. We practice, we do videos after the game. The work is difficult for us.
With only 20 days of practice, insufficient coaching staff, going to play a day before the start of the tournament—Bangladesh’s youth team proved itself in Oman despite many constraints. Rakibul Hasan, Prince Lal Samantra want to maintain that consistency in the Asia Cup this time.