Luck of the draw against U-16s
Bangladesh were pitted in the toughest group of the AFC U-16 Women’s Championships as the draw of the eight-nation finals was held at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Bangladesh emerged as group champions in the qualifying round ahead of the mighty Chinese Taipei and Iran, and the going will not get any easier as they now find themselves alongside defending champions North Korea, 2015 runners-up Japan and a potent Australian side in Group B.
The finals will get underway from September 10 in Chunburi, Thailand.
Meanwhile, hosts Thailand were drawn alongside South Korea, China and Laos in Group A. The top two finishers from each group will advance to the semifinals — which will also serve as the qualifier for the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup with the top three finishers representing Asia.
Since the completion of the qualifying round earlier in September and the SAFF Women’s Championship, the girls in red and green have played a few practice matches in Japan, Singapore and China under the guidance of Golam Rabbani Choton.
Although neither the coach nor the players have been speaking to the media under instructions from the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) women’s committee, BFF president Kazi Salahuddin believes that playing against Asia’s top three teams is itself a matter of pride.
“This is the toughest group. Australia, North Korea and Japan are the top [teams] of the world. So having the opportunity to play against them is something we can be proud of. Let’s see what happens,” said Salahuddin, adding that he would have expected victories if teams like Thailand and Laos had been drawn alongside Bangladesh.