After losing 3-2 to Indonesia last Tuesday, a 1-1 draw against Singapore tomorrow (Saturday). You have prepared well before the qualifying round … Anush Dastagir: Yes, the preparation has been very good. I played two friendly matches in a 10 day camp in Dubai. The match against Singapore should have been won. But we gave them the goal. I have played by changing the players so that no one gets hurt. They are now ready for the first match against Bangladesh.
The reality is that Bangladesh has to win. They will not have anything with the draw. And if you want to win, you have to come to the opponent’s boundary. We also want to win the match. So it will be a good match.
Anush Dastagir, Afghanistan coach
Question: In the first round, Dushanbe won 1-0 against Bangladesh. What are you expecting on June 3?
Dastagir: The match in Doha will be different. Bangladesh is good at counter-attack. We are also aware of that. It is true that we will be ahead in possession of the ball, but that does not mean that we are a better team than Bangladesh. Bangladesh needs a win in the qualifying round. So they will try to play by high pressing. This will create a lot of space behind the defense of Bangladesh. We have a fast winger to take advantage of that opportunity. The field in Qatar is also very big. So there is a lot of room for attack against the high press in Bangladesh.
Question: After your interview was published in the newspaper, maybe the words will reach the ears of the coach of Bangladesh team. Are you trying to start a psychological fight?
Dastagir: You have to win not by words, but by merit. A coach never changes his plans after listening to another coach. All good coaches have their own plans. The reality is that Bangladesh has to win. They will not have anything with the draw. And if you want to win, you have to come to the opponent’s boundary. We also want to win the match. So it will be a good match.
Q: Is the sudden return of Abahani center-back Masih Saigani to the national team after four years just for the experience of playing in Bangladesh?
Dastagir: No, it is not. Taking him for not having enough players. But I know he played very well there (in Bangladesh).
Q: The Afghanistan team is now more balanced than in the first episode. What about the changes?
Dastagir: There are six changes from the previous match. Two new faces and four old faces have returned. There are only 3 players in the 26-member squad who live and play in Afghanistan. Two play in India and two in the United States. There are one player each playing in Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia. The other 15 are also playing at different levels in Europe.
Q: How did you organize the team with the footballers scattered in different countries of the world?
Dastagir: Earlier, trials were held in Europe for the Afghanistan team. After I took over as coach, I started selecting footballers after watching the Afghans of Afghan descent playing in Europe. I am looking for players who will be able to take Afghanistan to the Asian Cup for the first time. Apart from this, I also keep track of the players playing in other countries.
Question: At the age of 26, you got the responsibility of coaching the Afghanistan national team or the former coach of Bangladesh Auto Fister’s contribution!
Dastagir: I was Auto Fister’s assistant in the Afghanistan team. When he left in 2016, he advised the Football Federation to give me the responsibility of head coach. That’s why I got the responsibility of head coach at the age of only 26.