The Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) yesterday announced a 35-member preliminary squad for their FIFA friendly against Laos later this month, excluding 15 footballers who were part of Bangladesh's shock 1-3 defeat at the hands of Bhutan in their Asian Cup pre-qualifiers 16 months ago, the last time the national team took the field.
Of the 22-member squad that was part of that humiliation, only seven players -- captain Mamunul Islam, goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana, defender Tapu Barman and midfielders Hemanta Vincent Biswas, Jewel Rana, Mohammad Abdullah and Jafar Iqbal -- have survived.
The notable omissions include midfielders Sohel Rana and Rubel Mia, defenders Raihan Hasan and Atiqur Rahman Meshu, striker Shakhawat Hossain Rony and goalkeeper Mamun Khan. Interestingly, no players from league champions Abahani, who are scheduled to play the AFC Cup from March, have been included in the preliminary squad.
British-born Australian coach Andrew Ord picked 17 players whom he guided at different age-level teams, but was unavailable to explain the reasons behind the selection of such a young team.
The squad features 12 players from the U-23 team and five from the U-19s while experienced campaigners like Zahid Hossain, Jamal Bhuiyan, Yeasin Khan, Towhidul Alam Sabuz, Faisal Mahmud and Uttam Kumar Banik returned to the national fold.
There have also been a couple of surprising inclusions such as veteran centre-back Abu Sufian Zahid and striker Pashbon Mollah while promising faces such as Matin Mia, Javed Khan and Ali Hossain have also been handed opportunities.
Residential training will get underway at the BKSP from February 13 for the friendly, which is scheduled to take place in Laos on February 27. Before taking on Laos, the national team are likely to play a couple of warm-up matches against Thai clubs during a short camp in Thailand.