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Hosts eye semi berth in nine years
BDchronicle:Hosts Bangladesh will be looking to book their place in the semi-finals for the first time in nine years when they take on Nepal in their final Group A match of the 12th SAFF Championship today.
The last time Bangladesh reached the last-four of the competition was in 2009 at the home ground.
The match will kick at 7:00pm at the Bangabandhu National Stadium and Bangladesh Television and Channel 9 will live telecast the match.
In the first match of the day, Pakistan will take on Bhutan at the same venue.
Bangladesh are topping Group A with full six points after their back-to-back wins against Bhutan and Pakistan while Nepal and Pakistan both have earned three points from two matches.
A draw against Nepal would see the hosts straight in the semis.
But if Bangladesh lose against Nepal and Pakistan beat Bhutan then Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal all three teams will have equal six points and head-to-head equation will also be equal.
In that case, goal difference would come into equation to determine, which two teams would go through to the semi-finals.
Bangladesh and Nepal have previously met each other on 21 occasions with Bangladesh winning on 12 occasions, losing six times while the other three games ended in draws.
The last time that the both sides met each other was two-and-a-half year back in the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in Dhaka where the match ended in a goalless tie.
Bangladesh coach Jamie Day warned his charges that their brilliant performances in the first two matches would be counted as nothing if they lost today’s tie against Nepal.
‘We need to play well to go through and if we don’t then we’d be out of the competition and that would be very disappointing for us because we’ve done so well in the first two games,’ Day told reporters on Friday.
‘We are looking forward to the match, Nepal are a very good side, they are going to cause us problems. They were unlucky against Pakistan but they scored four goals against Bhutan so they are a very good side.’
Day also prised his backline for not conceding a goal in tournament so far.
‘We’ve kept two clean-sheets so I’m happy with that,’ said the 38-year old coach, who on Friday gave rest to the players who played in the last match against Pakistan.
‘I think Pakistan and Nepal are very similar but they’re the best two teams in our group.
‘We cannot lose but we need to play our own game and hopefully we’ll play well enough to get through. But to win two games and not qualify is something I have never experienced.’
Nepal coach Balgopal Maharjan said that after their 4-0 win over Bhutan they were now confident of beating any side in the competition.
‘We have potential to beat any team,’ said the former Nepal national team player.
‘But it will be difficult for us to play against the home side and a huge home crowd. I have full faith on my team. If they can play as a team then we will win the match.’