Just a couple of days before the start of a much important tie, the streets of Male in the Maldives had been flooded with Bangladeshi people. It looked as if Maldives National Football Stadium turned into Bangabandhu National Stadium. According to Asian Football Confederation (AFC), at least 10% of the match tickets should be sold to away fans. However, in a stadium with a capacity of approximately 12,000 people, the Football Association of Maldives gave away only 200 tickets to the Tigers' fans.
The men in red and green got immense support from their fans in the first two matches of SAFF Championship 2021. As a result, they got a great outcome picking up 4 points from the two games. But as roughly 2% of the tickets were sold to Bangladeshi fans while the other 8% are being sold on the black market, it is clear that the Football Association of Maldives is playing a dirty mind game.
The Tigers have already shown their capability to come out on flying colours from any situation of a match as they made a comeback with 10-men against the mighty India to leave the pitch with a draw. The men in red and green are optimistic about how they are playing in this hunt for South Asian champions. The possession-based passing football that Oscar Bruzon has been able to initiate in this Bangladesh team is praiseworthy, and the goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico is satisfied with it.
The star goalkeeper of Bangladesh said," We are gradually adjusting to the passing football system that the coach Oscar Bruzon is making us play. We have the skills to play possession-based football."
However, Oscar Bruzon will not have the services of fullback Bishwanath Ghosh and star winger Rakib Hossain against the Red Snappers. While the former got suspended conceding a red card against the Blue Tigers, the latter got suspended for conceding two yellow cards in two straight matches.
But that is not giving Bruzon anything to worry about. The Spaniard mentioned," We have to prepare ourselves to the fullest without them (Bishwanath and Rakib) for the match against the Maldives. We did not come here to reduce any deficits or to just get back with a respectable outcome. We came here to win. Nothing has happened yet. We want to play the final."
The defending SAFF champions Maldives will very much look forward to their first win of the tournament after a 1-0 loss against Nepal in matchday 1. While the home crowds in the stadium will definitely be a booster, the real point of strength starts with the balanced line-up that they possess. The Red Snappers almost grabbed a win in the first match as they had the lion's share of possession, number of passes, and shots. However, they had an irony of fate against the Ghorkhalis.
Ali Suzain's Red Snappers will have the upper hand against Oscar Bruzon's men as the Maldives squad look more motivated with many of their senior players retiring after SAFF Championship 2021.
In the previous 12 faceoffs, the 158th ranked team won 4 just like the 4 wins of the 189th ranked team. But concern arises in the defense of Ali Suzain's men as they seem to make some silly mistakes. At the same time, the Tigers have failed to capitalize on numerous goal-scoring opportunities lacking a killer finisher. Although the Red Snappers might have defensive woes, the build-up play by the players in offensive positions is one of a kind.
Can Jamal Bhuyan and Co. pick out their second win of the tournament against the island nation of Maldives? Can Oscar Bruzon's men in red and green move one more step closer to a dream final? Or, will it be an all smiles outcome for Ali Ashfaq and Co. as the host nation? The answers lie in Maldives National Football Stadium of Mali today at 04:00 pm local time (05:00 pm BST).