Photo Courtesy: ANFA Players of Nepal’s national football team attend a training session at the ANFA Complex in Satdobato, Lalitpur, on Monday.
KATHMANDU, July 31: As Nepal’s national team is all set to fly to Japan to play friendly matches against Japanese teams, Nepal’s national football team head coach Gyotoku Koji has become quite optimistic about making this tour highly beneficial for the Nepali side.
He hopes so because the players will not only play friendly matches in Japan but will also get a chance to observe top class Japanese football.
“Since our national team doesn’t get chance to play enough friendly matches, this tour is going to be valuable for us as we can learn a lot while playing against Japanese teams,” Koji told Republica.
“But benefits from this tour doesn’t end here, players will also get chance to observe top Japanese teams playing, which will be helpful for them in learning new techniques,” he said.
As per the invitation of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Japan Football Federation (JFA), the Nepali team is flying to Japan on August 11.
However, the number of the Nepali players and officials flying to Japan is yet to be fixed. According to All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) officials, the number of the players could be between 20 to 24. Three coaches including Koji, Raju Kaji Shakya and goalkeeping coach Ujjwal Manandhar will accompany them.
The Nepali squad for Japan tour will be selected from the pool of 28 players who are currently receiving training at ANFA Complex since the last two weeks for the preparation of the upcoming AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers match against Tajikistan, scheduled for September 5 in Kathmandu.
Goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu and midfielder Rohit Chand who are playing their trade in Maldives and Indonesia respectively will be noticeably absent in the Nepali squad flying to Japan.
During the two-week-long Japan stay, Nepal will play five matches. Nepal will compete against two youth teams, two university teams and one regional club.
Besides that, Nepali team will also watch the training sessions of two J-league (Japanese first division) clubs and watch one match as well.
“Since the professional level of Japanese football is very high, with high-level infrastructure, playing and training methodologies, hopefully our players will watch all those things closely,” Koji added.
“The way Japanese players train, the facilities they get, the way their league is run, Nepali players will get chance to observe everything,” Koji further added.
Nepal will kick off the tour taking on the U-23 team of Japanese first division outfit Gamba Osaka on August 13.
Three days later, Nepal will face Kwansei Gakuin University while in the third match it will compete against regional football team Amities Sports Club on August on August 17.
Likewise in the third match on August 18, Nepal will face Hanan University and later it will wrap up the tour playing against another Japanese first division club Vissel Kobe’s U-18 team.
Men behind the tour
JFA has been helping Nepali football as two Japanese nationals Takeda Chiaki and Koji have been working as technical director and head coach of the national team, respectively.
Couple of months earlier, JFA in the coordination of Japanese foreign ministry, had invited five Nepali coaches to their country to attend coach instructor training.
Chiaki and Koji had requested JFA and MOFA Japan to manage that training for Nepali coaches. Megh Raj KC, Rajendra Tamang, Sunil Shrestha, Yam Gurung and Nabin Neupane attended the week-long training alongside other 42 Japanese coaches in Japan.
This time as well, JFA and MOFA Japan are managing the Japan tour for Nepali team upon the request of Chiaki and Koji. JFA and MOFA will bear all the expenses of Nepali team for the Japan tour.
Good chance for improvement
Meanwhile, national football team coach Raju Kaji Shakya says Japan tour will be an important opportunity for Nepali team to overcome its weaknesses. Nepal had faced 4-1 defeat to the Philippines in its first away match of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers while it produced goalless draw in home match against Yemen at Halchok stadium last month.
“In our regular trainings we are focusing on improving on our weak part that was noticed in the last few matches of Asian Cup Qualifiers. And the Japan tour will be a good chance for us to examine whether the players have improved or not,” Shakya said.
He also said that players have to understand the value of this tour and the matches against top teams. “We can learn a lot while playing against Japanese teams as Japanese football is one of the best in this continent,” Shakya added: “Our players will have to understand the value of these matches and take it as a chance to display their skills without making any mistake.”