POST TIME: 6 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Road to semi-finals
Chunnu picks France, Brazil as probable semi-finalists
With the intensity of the tournament set to bubble up further in the progress of the meet, former Bangladesh captain Ashrafuddin Ahmed Chunnu banks more on France than on Uruguay to move through into the semi-finals. He is also of the opinion that Brazil will face a tough hurdle against the Red Devils but will be there into the last four
Md Abu Talha Sarker

Chunnu picks France, Brazil as probable semi-finalists

Ashrafuddin Ahmed Chunnu

Bangladesh former captain Ashrafuddin Ahmed played for the national team for 10 years since 1975-85. The skilled left-winger capped 50 matches in which he scored 23 goals during his 10-year national career. The winger, locally known as Chunnu, slammed a hat-trick as the first-ever Bangladesh footballer against Nepal at the President’s Gold Cup at the Bangabandhu National Stadium (former Dhaka Stadium) in 1983. He was the first Bangladesh goal scorer (against India) in the FIFA World Cup Qualifier in 1985.

Chunnu started his football career (first division) with Dilkusha in 1973. He played for Abahani Limited for a longer period before playing for Rahmatganj Muslim Friends Society in 1974, besides donning the national jersey.

The ex-captain spoke about the opening day’s matches of the quarter-final stage and made his prediction in the light of his real experience and insight he gathered during his football career and the current games of the 2018 World Cup.

He shared his thoughts with this correspondent and said that with the progress of the tournament the intensity of the teams and their players had increased manifold. Now they know how much football they have to play to seal their eight-team quarter-final spot of the showpiece event.

The next pulsating phase of the quarter-finals will open with the match between France and Uruguay. Five-time winner Brazil will clash with the spirited Belgium in the second fixture of the day.

Ashrafuddin tipped France and Brazil as favourites among these four teams to scrape through to the semi-final berths. “With a better brand of football every team appeared here in the quarter-final berths by overcoming the hurdle of the group phase and challenges of the exciting round of 16. The intensity of the tournament will increase with the progress of the meet,” said Ashrafuddin Ahmed.

“France halted the Lionel Messi-led Argentine journey by 4-3. The way Uruguay powered past European champions Portugal was really fantastic. Overall, I think, both France and Uruguay will have 50-50 chance to win the quarter-final fixture,” Ahmed told The Independent.

Citing the names of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe, Chunnu said that he was betting France more than Uruguay to move into the semi-finals.

“France played football in an organized fashion throughout the tournament alongside having such players who could make a difference like youngsters Griezemanne, Pogba, Mbappe and Giroud. Actually, they have stardom players who showcased so far their team-wise charisma,” he observed.

“On the other hand, Uruguay is not a bad side. They have two solid players the likes of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez. The combination of the duo that beat Portugal is very good. I cannot underestimate any of them. But it’s important for both teams to try and capitalize the chances they get. The team that can capitalize more scoring chances will be victorious, though there will not be too many such chances,” he thought.

 In case of the Brazil-Belgium match, the veteran winger said, he felt, Brazil’s possibility of winning the quarter-final was greater than Belgium.

 “ Belgium’s arrival at the quarter-final is not totally unexpected. Although they fought a keenly contested match and broke Asian hearts beating Japan 3-2 in the last 16 phase.  They played well against most of the  teams in group phase.”

 “I’ve also seen the games of the Belgium team, some of whose players are world class and have the strength to do something extraordinary for the team. I think, if Belgium could maintain their present momentum there is every possibility of upsetting the favourites Brazil. I think ball-player Winger Eden would have to bear the most of attacking burden to bemuse the opponents defence.”

“And undoubtedly Brazilian captain and forward Neymar would have to play a key role to organize the attacking line. Definitely you have marked that Brazilian team has been improving in every match.

I would like to say emphatically that the team who will score first will get an added advantage to win the battle.” But it would not be surprised to see the South American team would win their hexa  title under the leadership of Neymar,”  he said, before signing off.