The majority of the time, a guilty-ridden person Whenever Rakib Hossain thought back to the 2021 SAFF Championship, he played a certain clip from the tournament’s video archive.
The winger from Bangladesh had always accepted the responsibility for the unforced blunder that he made, which caused Bangladesh to lose their opportunity to play in the final.
Rakib was sent off in the 79th minute of their match against Nepal as a result of allowing his nerves get the better of him and playing it too conservatively. At that juncture of the game, cutting back a long pass from the other team’s half was unnecessary since the game was in a precarious balance. A seemingly innocuous action led to a disastrous outcome in a matter of seconds: goalkeeper Anisur Rahman Zico was compelled to pass the ball beyond the D-box in order to prevent a certain goal from being scored. After Zico was sent a red card, Bangladesh, now down to ten players, were only able to hold out until the very last few minutes of the match until Nepal scored the feared equalizer.
Since then, Rakib has made a substantial amount of progress as a result of his participation in the local leagues for the country’s top two organizations – Abahani and Bashundhara Kings – in the previous two seasons under the direction of Mario Lemos and Oscar Bruzon. He has been able to successfully translate his accomplishments on the home stage into his performances on the international stage. Rakib redeemed himself by helping Bangladesh reach the semifinals of the 2023 SAFF Championship after carrying his remorse from the 2021 tournament into the 2023 competition. Bangladesh had not reached the semifinals in 14 years.
Due to a hamstring injury that he sustained in his right leg, Rakib’s participation in the competition that is now taking place was in doubt. He was unable to participate in any of the team’s drills that included the ball for a period of two weeks. In the match against Lebanon, he played for the last twenty minutes, although Rakib was uncertain about whether or not he would be able to make any pacey runs, which are his major strength. In the end, he was successful in racing down the left wing to set up a favorable chance for Rafiqul Islam.
The equalizer did not come, but Rakib gained the confidence to trust in his innate ability as a result of the transfer, and everyone witnessed what he was capable of in the games that followed, particularly against Maldives and Bhutan.
According to comments made by Rakib to The Daily Star, “We played really well in the 2021 SAFF Championship, and we could have played the final if I had not made that mistake.”
“Of course, that occurrence operated on the inside of me before to my participation in this SAFF Championship. I have been resolute in my efforts to avoid making the same errors in the future and to contribute positively to the national team.
When the 24-year-old player was asked to evaluate the results of the two SAFF campaigns, he responded by saying, “We were nervous in my first SAFF Championship in Maldives where I made a few mistakes.” There were certain issues, and the club coaches worked with me to find solutions to those issues and bring me out of them. Because I put in so much effort, I believe that I have been able to enjoy myself throughout the competition.
“After suffering a muscle tear injury in Bangladesh while participating in the training session [on June 7], I did not believe that I would be able to compete in this SAFF Championship. But the coach and the other members of the coaching staff put a lot of stock in me. Rakib reflected on the difficulties he had while attempting to regain his fitness for the campaign. He said, “The physio helped me a lot to be fit for the match against Maldives after keeping me out in the FIFA-friendly match against Cambodia.”
In the lack of a true striker, he has not only been scoring goals but also assisting on goals scored by others. Rakib attributes the six goals that Bangladesh scored over their three games in this competition to the whole squad.
“I believe that the credit for scoring goals should belong to the whole team since we are working so hard together, and I could not have scored without the assistance of the other members of the squad.
The rejuvenating effect that his chemistry up front with Sheikh Morsalin has had for Bangladesh is another example.
“Sheikh Morsalin is a member of the Bashundhara Kings squad, and we have a wonderful working relationship together. If you look back at the past two matches, he aided me and I assisted him, and the agreement between the two of us was struck at the club level.”
The young man from Barishal, who did not attend a football school growing up, has the speed and strength to go down the flanks, but in the past he had trouble keeping possession of the ball while he was on the move. But when Rakib had developed in that regard, he was head and shoulders above the competition in the home circuit.
“Of course, speed is my greatest asset, but I have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to scoring goals because I get anxious and want to rush inside the box.
In football, there is no substitute for putting in a lot of effort. I make it a point to follow the guidelines given by the instructors at all times. In addition, I make an effort to devote more time to working out at the gym. To tell you the truth, I have organized my personal life in a methodical manner, and I am beginning to see the fruits of that labor today.
Rakib is also of the opinion that the players on the Bangladesh team are progressively establishing their distinct personalities as new players join the squad.
In spite of the fact that Lebanon and India have been regarded as the two teams most likely to win the title, Kuwait has already shown that they are deserving of the reputation of being the competition’s hardest side. Rakib and his colleagues hope that they will be able to go through the challenges presented by Kuwait on Saturday, when they compete in the first of the tournament’s semi-final matches.
We are optimistic about our chances of success in the match versus Kuwait. Since this is not a match from the group stage but rather one of the semifinals, everyone will be motivated to leave their mark on the record books. I want to be a part of the history of Bangladesh, and I can only do that if I make it to the final.