DT 18 Sports SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2017 Bangladesh U-16 women’s football team players and officials pose for photographs after landing in Chonburi, Thailand yesterday AFC U-16 WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP 2017 Bangladesh girls arrive in Thailand • Tribune Report A 21-member Bangladesh U-16 girls football team arrived in Chonburi, the eastern province of Thailand, yesterday ahead of their historic participation in the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2017, which gets underway tomorrow. The young girls are accompanied with long-time head coach Golam Rabbani Choton, assistant coach Mahbubur Rahman Litu and senior women’s team captain-cumcoach Sabina Khatun. The BFF’s technical and strategic director Paul Thomas Smalley also flew with the squad. Bangladesh girls qualified for the tournament for the first time in history after exhibiting brilliant display in the qualifiers last year in September in Dhaka where they stunned some of the big teams in Asia, winning all their five matches. They are also the only team from south Asia to play in the event where Asia’s top eight teams will compete to earn qualification in the World Cup. The Bangladesh girls have been placed in a tough group along with former champion North Korea, Japan and Australia. They will kick off their campaign a day after the inaugural match, against favourite North Korea at Chonburi Stadium on Monday before facing Japan and Australia at IPE Stadium on September 14 and 17 respectively. Only five players from Bangladesh’s 23-member squad in the AFC U-16 Championship qualifiers in Dhaka were not included in the current 20-member squad. They are Nargis, Taslima, Josna, Sultana and Ruksana. Rumki and Razia Khatun are the only additions from the qualifiers’ squad. Bangladesh squad Mahmuda Akhter, Rumki, Nazma, Masura Parvin, Akhi Khatun, Sheuli Azim, Anai Mogini, Nilufa Yesmin Nila, Shamsunnahar, Misrat Jahan Mousumi, Maria Manda, Tohura Khatun, Sanjida Akhter, Marzia Akhter, Monika Chakma, Israt Jahan Ratna, Razia Khatun, Srimoti Krishna Rani Sarkar, Anuching Mogini and Sirat Jahan Shopna • Anamul an option for tour of S Africa • Tribune Report BCB president Nazmul Hasan has yet again put forward a suggestion for the national selection panel, asking them to consider opener Anamul Haque Bijoy for the tour of South Africa, scheduled for later this month. The BCB boss said he recommended Anamul’s name as he wants to see more right-handed batsmen in the Tigers’ batting lineup to complement the left-handers. “If Imrul [Kayes] had done well, we would have thought of putting him ahead of Soumya [Sarkar] but that didn’t happen,” the BCB supremo said. “There isn’t anyone extraordinary coming up in that position, but we are looking for someone. Bijoy is an option as a right-hander. You will be surprised to know that I have already mentioned him day before yesterday. I think he will be considered. We have to work with a left-right combination.” BFF The BCB chief also spoke about Test captain Mushfiqur Rahim, who sought clarity following the conclusion of the Australia Tests regarding his multiple roles in redball cricket. The BCB president said, “I think it is Mushfiq’s problem. Doesn’t Mashrafe [bin Mortaza] captain the (ODI) side? He has never faced such a problem. Shakib [al Hasan], the new T20I captain, will never face a problem. These things are a captain’s decision. We can give him (Mushfiq) a strategy but he has to take the decision in the field. Mashrafe decides by himself who will bowl and bat. We can give him information, maybe tell him try this, try him; but nothing more than that. “We asked him if he wants to keep wickets. We asked him if he wants to bat at No 4. Even the day before the second innings [of the Chittagong Test], I sent him word to bat at No 4. But he didn’t do it. So it is up to him. He sent Nasir [Hossain at No 4], maybe he didn’t want to change his position. I will ask him since he said such a thing in the media. After end of play on the first day, I discussed plans and strategies with Shakib, [Mehedi Hasan] Miraz, Taijul [Islam] and the coach (Chandika Hathurusingha). But I won’t dictate them what to do.” •
Hazard ready to return for Chelsea against Leicester • Reuters, London Belgian forward Eden Hazard could return for champion Chelsea’s Premier League clash at Leicester City today after fully recovering from the fractured ankle he sustained in June. The 26-year-old is yet to play for Chelsea this season but made two substitute appearances for Belgium in World Cup qualifiers against Gibraltar and Greece last week. “Now he is available, he is in the list for the squad,” Chelsea manager Antonio Conte told reporters yesterday. “He is improving a lot, he is working very strong to be ready. Now I can count on him. I have to decide the right minutes, but he is available now.” Conte had initially expressed surprise that Hazard had been called up for international duty, although he later softened his stance saying it could be beneficial for the player. “When there is a bad injury and surgery, it is normal to pay attention to his recovery,” Conte said yesterday. “I spoke with Roberto Martinez and we tried the right way to improve his (Hazard’s) fitness and I was very happy he played against Gibraltar and 20 minutes against Greece,” he added. Bayern’s Alaba injured, Rudy ready for Hoffenheim return • Reuters, Berlin Bayern Munich will be without defender David Alaba when they travel to Hoffenheim today but Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Suele are ready for a first return to their former club as the champions look to take over the top spot in the Bundesliga. Alaba suffered an ankle injury while on international duty with Sports Austria this week and will be out for some time, Bayern said. The length of the defender’s absence is not yet clear but there was good news for Carlo Ancelotti’s team with Rudy, who was also injured in Germany’s 6-0 victory over Norway on Monday, being declared fit for Saturday. Midfielder Rudy trained alone on Wednesday but is expected to return to team practice later on Thursday. Both Rudy and central defender Suele, another Germany international, moved to Bayern after a sensational season at Hoffenheim that saw them finish fourth in the Bundesliga. Bayern are on six points from two victories from two matches with a slightly worse goal difference than leader Borussia Dortmund but that means little so early in the season. For Suele and Rudy, however, the battle for a starting spot has long 19 SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2017 FIXTURES Mainz v Leverkusen M’ladbach v Frankfurt Augsburg v Cologne Freiburg v Dortmund Wolfsburg v Hanover Hoffenheim v Bayern DT started and with seven games scheduled for the next 23 days, including in the Champions League, they know they need to be ready at any time. “I have to stay consistent for years and I have to continue the same way,” Rudy said this week. “My aim is to establish myself at Bayern.” It may be somewhat easier for Rudy, with Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm retired, than for Suele, who faces fierce competition from established internationals such as Mats Hummels, Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng. The latter two have now recovered from injuries and want their starting spots back, while Hummels is currently considered the only automatic starter of the four. Hoffenheim’s Serge Gnabry has made the opposite trip, signing for Bayern this season but going on loan for a year to Hoffenheim. The forward would like to show Bayern what he has got but an ankle injury could rule him out for the game. Dortmund will look to protect their lead when they travel to Freiburg. • FIVE THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR IN EPL GAMEWEEK 4 Wenger must find Özil help to thrive After the humiliation of their 4-0 defeat at Liverpool and the perceived humiliation of their end to the transfer window, Arsenal couldn’t have wished for a kinder fixture with which to return – albeit the kind of kinder fixture which frequently challenges them. But however you look at things, Bournemouth have not started the season well, nor are they set up to exploit Arsenal’s weaknesses. Now, though, Arsene Wenger must settle on his best team and, in particular, trust his new players. The impetuous hardness of Sead Kolasinac will bring a bit of fun if nothing else, while Alexandre Lacazette has the pace and intelligence to help Mesut Özil thrive. And Özil needs help to thrive, a reality which may displease those already displeased by his languid style; they can console themselves with his class and finesse, qualities which do not exactly proliferate among his team-mates. Only an idiot would buy a cat and expect it to behave like a dog. Shakespeare can undo Chelsea the Leicester way When Chelsea visited the King Power in January, they were already champion-elect, while Leicester City were a mess; as such Claudio Ranieri decided to use a formation similar to that employed by Antonio Conte. Football being football, there are no rules to such things, but generally speaking, if an inferior team apes a superior one, class will prevail; the route to unexpected victory lies in exploiting differences, not creating similarities. So Leicester were handed a comprehensive kicking in which the brace scored by Marcos Alonso, Chelsea’s left wing-back, epitomised their expertise at playing a system that Leicester could not hope to imitate. This time things will be different. Craig Shakespeare’s players will be sent on to the pitch to do what they do best and take away what Chelsea do best – or, given the likely absence of Eden Hazard, second best. Might Goodison be a home from home for Spurs? Already this season, Tottenham Hotspur have dropped more points at home than in the entirety of last, and already this season, Spurs have done as they did in the previous two, undermining their title challenge with a slow start. Accordingly, they must get going on their travels, and though they could wish for a more welcoming trip than to Goodison Park, they will find a pitch almost as compact as that at White Hart Lane, may its memory be for a blessing, and more space in which to enjoy it than was afforded them by Chelsea and Burnley. With Spurs, there is, in a sense, never anything for which to look out: they play the same way in more or less every game, just far too well for most teams to cope. But today they will feel they have something to prove, and more than that, they simply cannot afford to lose. In particular, these circumstances should agitate and excite Dele Alli, whose intelligence, attitude and edge were so crucial to England in midweek. Guardiola’s ad hoc selection faces stiff Liverpool test Manchester City and Liverpool have plenty in common: they are fast, attacking, aggressive teams, undermined by inexcusably dodgy defences. But there is one major difference between them: everyone knows exactly how Liverpool will play, whereas no one has any clue how City play – including the players, by the look of things. Partly, this is because Pep Guardiola is trying to hide the aforementioned dodgy defence, partly this is because he has more attackers than attacking positions, and partly this is because he is an obsessive perfectionist. So he is still trying to deduce whether he should use two wingers if that limits him to only one striker; whether David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne can fit into the same team; and how to get 17 full-backs and 24 midfielders into 11 starting spots. Options are useful, but they can also confuse things. Stoke a barometer for United’s title credential Today evening, Manchester United are away to Stoke City, the archetypal, apocryphal Premier League fixture: the wind blows, the crowd bay, and Rory Delap tames Lionel Messi. Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams were largely impervious to such effects; in five visits to the Potteries they won four and drew one, whereas since his retirement they have recorded two draws and two defeats. Accordingly, this weekend’s encounter will tell us something of United’s progress, their toughest test so far – all the more so given the momentum-checker that is international fortnight. United have been notable so far this season for how strong they have been in the final quarter of games, but that advantage may be lost to them on this occasion: the majority of Stoke players have had two weeks of rest and preparation, so should be primed for a strong start and finish. If United can emerge with three points, it will be a sign that they are ready to be good again.