KATHMANDU, Aug 19: Nepali national football team which is all set to compete in the Nehru Cup International Football Tournament has set itself a tough target of advancing into the final round. Nepal will be leaving for New Delhi on Tuesday to compete in the tournament to be held from August 22 to September 2.
The most prestigious international tournament being organized by All India Football Federation will feature the likes of Cameroon, host India, Syria, Maldives and Nepal.
Nepal´s coach Krishna Thapa set the target to make it to final of the event to be held on round robin where the winner and runner up from the league stage will make it to the final.
However, securing a berth in the final stage will be a difficult task for Nepal. But coach Thapa has set his ambition on beating South Asian football powerhouse India and Maldives in the group stage. "India and Maldives play similar level of football as that of Nepal," Thapa said adding, "So we are hopeful of beating the South Asian opponents. Though we are unaware about Syrian football, we are optimistic of putting a strong show against them as India had defeated Syria during the finals of last two editions."
Though coach Thapa, assisted by coaches Upendra Man Singh and Hari Khadka, has set high ambition, Nepali team had only short term training for the event which is expected be tougher than SAFF Championship.
The training of the national team began from August 5 and a couple of sessions were halted. "We could hardly have a dozen training sessions but the team is fit enough to play for the 90 minute. Most of the players of the national squad were training with their respective clubs as they were preparing for the Ncell Cup," Thapa said.
Meanwhile, assistant captain Ritesh Thapa asaid short preparation could hamper understanding between the players.
Looking at the past records Nepal have not played a single match with Cameroon ranked 59 in the FIFA rankings while Syria ranked 147 will also be a new opponent. India ranked 168 And Maldives ranked 161 are well known opponents for Nepal placed one spot below Maldives.
In its 12 encounters with Maldives, Nepal has achieved victories in three matches, lost five and drawn four matches. The last time the two countries met was during the AFC Challenge Cup in Kathmandu earlier this year in which Maldives beat Nepal 1-0.
Coach Thapa has also planned up to come with different strategy for Nepali team. "We will come up with aggressive style of play with most of the team except with Cameroon," Thapa said adding, "As Cameroon is strong team we will play 4-1-4-1 formation."
Thapa is likely to make change in forward line which has been criticized for its inability to score goals. Changing pair of Jumanu Rai and Anil Gurung in the starting line up, Thapa will assign the attacking role to the pair of in-form Bharat Khawas and Santosh Sahukhala.
"Both Khawas and Sahukhala are in good shape. As Khawas also has the better ability to play as attacking midfielder, he may also be assigned the role," Thapa said. He termed Khawas as an extra ordinary player.
Aug 23 Nepal vs Maldives
Aug 26 Nepal vs Cameroon
Aug 28 Nepal vs India
Aug 30 Nepal vs Syria
Sept 2 Final
Date Result Events
1986 Nepal 4-0 Maldives First SAF (SAG) Games
1989 Nepal 0-0 Maldives Fourth SAF Games
1991 Nepal 0-1 Maldives Fifth SAF Games
1993 Nepal 0-0 Maldives Sixth SAF Games
1995 Nepal 1-0 Maldives Seventh SAF Games
1999 Nepal 2-3 Maldives Second SAFF C´ship
1999 Nepal 2-1 Maldives Eights SAF Games
2003 Nepal 2-3 Maldives Third SAF C´ship
2008 Nepal 1-4 Maldives Fifth SAFF C´ship
2009 Nepal 1-1 Maldives Sixth SAFF C´ship
2011 Nepal 1-1 Maldives Seventh SAFF C´ship
2012 Nepal 0-1 Maldives AFC Challenge Cup finals, KTm