Interview: Sabina Khatun
‘The only thing left now is winning the trophy’
The name Sabina Khatun is attached with many firsts in women’s football in Bangladesh. She is the first Bangladeshi female footballer to take part in multiple professional leagues. Since 2010, she has been a regular member of the national team, she has captained the team in eight of those years. She has played the most number of matches for the national team, 42, and scored the highest number of goals, 25. Sabina, who has featured in all six editions of the SAFF Women’s Championship, spoke with Prothom Alo about the ongoing tournament and her career.
Bangladesh began the tournament with a win over the Maldives. But are you satisfied with the 3-0 win?
In order to qualify for the semifinal, it was important for us to win that match. However, we lacked in some aspects in that game. We have problems in finishing. We got a lot of opportunities to score but we couldn’t make them count. We are happy that we won the match. But coach (Golam Rabbani) has already started working with us to fix those problems.
You have played four seasons in the Maldivian league. How much did that experience help you in that match against them?
I played for the Maldives police and army teams. Many players from these two teams played in this tournament. I have a very good idea about their strengths and weaknesses. Before arriving here, coach (Golam Rabbani) had a separate discussion with me about the Maldives game. Those plans worked.
Bangladesh has never won the SAFF Women’s Championship. But before arriving in Nepal, you said that this time you have a different goal…
This time we really have come here with a different goal in mind. Compared to the teams in the previous five editions, our current team is much more balanced. The girls are optimistic. Even they are confident that this time something great could happen. These girls have been playing together for five years, from age-level teams to the senior team. They have great understanding between them. Before every game, I remind them of our 6-0 win over Malaysia in last June. If we can win against a 90th ranked team, then why can’t we win here?
The next match is against Pakistan. What are your plans for that match?
There will be some changes to our plans. They will definitely be desperate to win. But we are not worried about that. The most positive thing for us is that our reserve bench is very strong. The team is not depended on one player like before. Everyone tries to utilise opportunities when they are available.
You have turned scoring goals into a habit. Do you feel under pressure when the goals don’t come?
I never put pressure on myself. I always try to remain confident in front of my teammates. When they see that I’m confident, their confidence also grows. Now, the girls are becoming much more professional, they are maturing. Especially, Maria (Manda) and Krishna (Rani Sarkar) have learnt to shoulder more responsibilities. This is a positive sign for the team.
You have played in all editions of the Women’s SAFF Championship. You must feel proud…
The fact that I’ve been with SAFF from the beginning gives me special joy. To be honest, when we began, women’s football was in a scattered state. I survived that period, made it this far and I’m still regularly giving my best. Obviously, this is a special feeling for me.
You have been playing for so many years. Do you have any regrets?
My dream is to win the SAFF Championship. I’ve been playing for the national team for 12-13 years. The only thing left for me is to win the trophy. It’ll feel great to bring the trophy to Bangladesh.
*The interview appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy