KATHMANDU, June 13: National football team skipper Biraj Maharjan said that the team must improve coordination when Nepal faces Yemen in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers at Halchowk Stadium on Tuesday.
“Lately, the coordination between players hasn't been good, particularly in defense and attack. We must improve these things in the match against Yemen on Tuesday,” said skipper Maharjan in a pre-match conference in the capital on Monday on the eve of its match against Yemen.
Nepal's defensive display has been major concern lately as it had conceded four goals in the continental competition's qualifiers away clash against the Philippines on March 28 and two more goals in its defeat to India in a friendly played in Mumbai on June 6.
However, Nepali captain Maharjan said that improving defensive performance and keeping clean sheet against Yemeni side will be the main objective. “Failing to play with proper awareness and alertness had cost us dear in the last two matches but this time we won't repeat the mistakes. We have to keep clean sheet in this home match or else it will be very hard in the away match,” added Maharjan. He also said that fullback Rabin Shrestha who is out due to injury and suspended deep-lying midfielder Bikram Lama will be missed greatly.
Meanwhile head coach Gytoku Koji also echoed same view as his captain. “In the last match we were defensively poor. Defenders couldn't cope up with the pressure from opponent players,” said head coach Koji.
However, Koji said that such problems can't be solved overnight. “We have to solve this problem but it's impossible to get rid of it in a week. We will do it match by match,” added Koji.
He also said that Nepal won't play air balls in the match against Yemen like it did in Mumbai friendly. “Our basic strategy is to play short passes not long balls. It was not in plan to play air balls against India and we won't have it against Yemen either,” further added Koji.
Nepal and Yemen have met twice before with the Gulf team registering wins in both occasions. Nepal was beaten 3-0 by the 124th ranked Yemen in AFC Asian Cup 2000 Qualifiers held in Kuwait while it faced 2-0 defeat in a friendly played in 2014 in Qatar.
Meanwhile Yemen made a winning start to the qualifiers registering 2-1 victory over Tajikistan on March 28 and will look to continue the same form against Nepal. Yemeni head coach Abrham Mebratu said that his team has prepared well adding his team was in Egypt for one month long preparation. “We have had pretty well preparation for this match. We were in Cairo for one month, played many friendly matches with local clubs so we are in good condition,” said head coach Mebratu.
Remembering his first visit during 2013 AFC U-22 Championship qualifiers, Mebratu said that Nepali football is not new for him. “I had come here in 2013 for U-22 qualifiers so for me Nepali football is not so new. Lately Nepali football is improving a lot, there has been positive changes,” added Mebratu who had led Yemen U-22 to the final rounds of the tournament topping group that included Nepal.
He also informed that his team has nine players playing abroad especially in other Gulf leagues but only five have travelled to Nepal. Yemeni skipper Mohamed Ibrahim Ayyash said that his team will play for full three points. “We have arrived here with good preparation so we will play to gather all three points,” said Mohamed Ibrahim Ayyash, who is also goalkeeper of the team.