POST TIME: 25 January, 2020 00:00 00 AM
Palestine out to retain title
Burundi aim to win at first attempt
Sports Reporter, Dhaka

Palestine out to retain title

Palestine key player Musav Abu Salem (L) and Burundi captain Tambwe Amissi pose for a photograph with Bangabandhu Gold Cup Football Tournament trophy during the pre-final press conference at BFF Bhaban in the capital yesterday. BFF Photo

Reigning champions Palestine, in a bid to retain the title, lock horns with Burundi in the final of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup Football Tournament today. The match will kick off at the Bangabandhu National Stadium at 4pm. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to be present as chief guest and hand over the trophy.

Bangladesh Television and RTV will telecast the match live, while Bangladesh Betar will broadcast live commentary. Burundi is the sensation of this edition of the tournament, the African side having booked their final berth with an impressive performance. On their way to the final, Burundi won both their group leg matches, trouncing their neighbouring opponents Mauritius and Seychelles by 4-1 and 3-1.

Burundi, after storming into the semifinal, blanked host Bangladesh by 3-0 to move into the final and are confident of lifting the trophy. On the other hand, Palestine, who kept their sheet clean in their group matches, beginning the campaign with a 2-0 win against Bangladesh and defeating Sri Lanka by the same margin, had a struggling solitary goal win in the semifinal against Seychelles. Both sides will vie for the trophy—Palestine for successive times and Burundi for the first attempt.

The title showdown is expected to be very competitive. In their last three matches, Burundi exhibited better performance than the reigning champions Palestine. Burundi scored 10 goals in three matches, whereas Palestine could find the target five times, though the former conceded two goals and the latter did not concede any. Palestine coach Makram Baboub, who had said confidently before starting the campaign that they would retain the title, repeated his words at a press conference at the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) yesterday (Friday).   “We are here again to retain the tile and are ready for the final. We know the final will be different,” he said.

Makram, who followed the matches of Burundi, agreed about the skills of the physically strong team.  “Burundi is a good team having skilled players, and their striking zone is also very strong. But we also have a compact defense," he added. Palestine will play with their full force as they have no card or injury problems, the coach said. Musav Abu Salem, one of the key players of Palestine who scored two goals in their first two matches, also echoed the coach.  “We came here to win the title again and will try our best to win this time also,” he said.

Burundi coach Joslin Bipfecbusa expressed his optimism that they are keen to win the trophy. Joslin Bipfecbusa, who does not think that results of previous matches would matter in the final, said: “We won the last three matches, including the 3-0 win against Bangladesh. But these do not matter. The day’s game will be important.”

“When you fight to win, you will have to perform on that particular day. We never won such a trophy before, but will play to win the title tomorrow and it would be a big achievement for us. It is a major trophy,” he added.

Joslin Bipfecbusa is not worried about having little time to prepare for the final. “No problem having not enough time. Bangladesh weather is good,” he said. Talking about the difference between Asian and African football, the Burundi coach said: “Asian football is strong in technique, but Africans are strong in both technique and physique.”