We deserved to be in Last 16: Cabrera
Bangladesh coach Javier Cabrera said he was proud of his charges but felt disappointed they could not qualify for the Round of 16 of the Asian Games following their last group match where they held hosts China to a goalless draw yesterday.
Having lost their first two matches 1-0 against Myanmar and India, conceding unfortunate late goals in both matches, the charges of Cabrera put on a brave display against the table-toppers at the Huanglong Sports Centre Stadium.
The performance against China stoked frustration for the Spaniard, who felt his side deserved more based on their performances throughout the three matches.
"Obviously it's a very good performance and I'm happy. I'm happy for the team and the players but I think we could have still stayed in this tournament. We deserved to be in the Last 16," Cabrera said after the match, where Bangladesh fought toe-to-toe against the former World Cup participating nation possession-wise as well as in terms of attacks and shots, in front of a 36,000-plus home crowd.
The Bangladesh team came into the Asian Games on the back of a historic first second-round appearance from the previous edition. Hence there was much expectation on Cabrera's charges even though they were handed a tough draw with China, India and Myanmar in the group. To make matters worse for the Spaniard, he had to come to China with a very young squad after a number of experienced players from the initial squad dropped out – captain Jamal Bhuiyan declining for his club commitment in Argentina and Bashundhara Kings not releasing their players due to AFC Cup commitment.
Despite playing with only two regular starters of the senior national team and a few fringe players, the men in red and green put on brave displays in all three games, even if the results didn't go their way. Cabrera was left to rue the scoring chances they missed in the competition.
"We leave this competition with one point and having conceded two goals, one of which from a penalty and the other an own goal," Cabrera said. "But we have also missed 20 chances to get those points and qualify. We could have won today. But sometimes we lack a bit of conviction."
The Spaniard, who has overseen a vivid improvement in the national team's performances in recent times, said the main objective of the campaign, which was to get a group of young players who could be as good as the senior players, was achieved.