AFC Cup Exclusive | Worst pitch, fans in mixed zone, racist comments: Bashundhara Kings and Dhaka are not ready for "football" yet

Bashundhara Kings' Football Facilities Fall Short of International Standards in their AFC Cup group fixture against Mohun Bagan Super Giant in Dhaka on Tuesday.
AFC Cup Exclusive | Worst pitch, fans in mixed zone, racist comments: Bashundhara Kings and Dhaka are not ready for "football" yet

Bashundhara Kings defeated Mohun Bagan Super Giant by 2-1 at their turf, the Kings Arena, as they say, the invincible home. They claimed the top spot in the AFC Cup group D points table, after the win by a head-to-head win, with seven points. The football played on the pitch has had its results, but Bashudhara Kings and Dhaka failed miserably as the hosts.

The Bashundhara Kings Arena is still under construction and a team which is only ten years old; has done immensely well for Bangladesh Football to build an infrastructure that surely can lead Bangladesh Football to a better future. But, they are still not ready for top-level football; even with all those concrete buildings all over the place. The scene might change in a few years; but, as of now, it is not a place for top-level football.

First, the ground. By no means, the pitch at the King's Arena looked like a standard pitch for international players and a tournament like the AFC Cup. One patch of the pitch was "coloured green" so that on TV or streaming it looks like real grass. Unfortunately, it was not real grass. Even, when Sportz Point were present at the ground, for Mohun Bagan's practice one day before the match, the pitch did not look like the best place for football, if you are an international-level footballer.

Some parts of the Bashudhara Kings Arena were painted green so that the ground would appear green on the screen. Although the ground lacked grass and quality as seen on this photo.
Some parts of the Bashudhara Kings Arena were painted green so that the ground would appear green on the screen. Although the ground lacked grass and quality as seen on this photo.Copyright | Sportz Point

It was heard that the ground did not have any rest since the season started here in Bangladesh. Otherwise, it would have been lash green. Well, Mohun Bagan coach Juan Ferrando would not been happy to hear that. He even went on to say as the worst ground to play a tournament like the AFC Cup.

"It is tough to play at this ground. Obviously, it is difficult because everybody knows the ground is not in good condition to play here. But, okay, for us, the most important is to try to learn and improve," Juan Ferrando said in the post-match press conference.

"The ground condition is worst. That's all. The extra time for me was incredible. For me, these are not excuses. For me, in this competition, it is incredible that in this condition, if they accept to play here, that's all, we come here and play," he then added when Sportz Point asked him about the pitch conditions.

AFC Cup Exclusive | Worst pitch, fans in mixed zone, racist comments: Bashundhara Kings and Dhaka are not ready for "football" yet
AF Cup 2023-24: Bashundhara still unbeaten in Dhaka; top of the AFC Cup group after 2-1 win over Mohun Bagan

From ground to administration, Bashundhara failed as a host. Although, it is quite normal for football fans to go at each other and sometimes try to call out players by chanting against their names; Bashundhara fans took it to another level. Interestingly, the administration or the AFC volunteers saw it with their open eyes.

After the match, near about fifty Bashundhara Kings fans assembled near the mixed zone and started using slang against Mohun Bagan's coach and players. For all of those, who do not know what a mixed zone is, "it is normally the place from where players would leave and accredited journalists can interview them if the players are willing enough."

This is the place where only accredited journalists can have access but on Tuesday night, we saw many guests there with micks in their hands and slungs from their mouths. Interestingly, security and police there just kept watching and AFC volunteers who are also from Bangladesh, kept on watching. Not only that, even if some of the fans, would have chosen to be violent, they might have been successful with the security Kings Arena had for the away team players.

Fans were seen in the mixed zone area who kept on abusing Mohun Bagan players and coaches after the match.
Fans were seen in the mixed zone area who kept on abusing Mohun Bagan players and coaches after the match.Copyright | Sportz Point

Things got even worse when a few fans shouted some racist comments at Mohun Bagan player Asish Rai and others. This time, the AFC volunteer requested the fans to not say any racist words, where he should have taken action against them and used security to vacate the place. When the whole football world is fighting against racism, Bashundhara Kings had the chance to set up an example by taking proper actions, but, they failed to do so.

Dhaka, or Bangladesh as a whole, is a sport-loving place; specially when it comes to football. If one roams around the city; one will notice every one in three people wearing football jerseys; be it a Bangladeshi jersey an Argentine jersey or an Arsenal one. But, still, the craziness and madness could not match the maturity and character a football-loving city must show.

Hence, even after their first-ever win over an Indian team in any Asian club competition, Bashundhara Kings and Dhaka failed miserably in the eyes of the whole football world.

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