KATHMANDU, May 1: Nepal Police Club is traveling to Cambodia on Wednesday to compete in the group stage of AFC President´s Cup to be held there from May 5 to 9. Following dismal results in its last two participations, the runner up of 2007 edition is aiming to regain its previous glory this time.
In its last two participations, NPC had crashed out from the group stage in 2009 and 2011 at home ground in Dasharath Stadium. In its very first participation in 2007, Police had finished runner up after going 2-1 against Regar Tadaz of Tajikistan in the final played in Pakistan.
In 2008 edition, Police crashed out from semifinal at the hands of Dordoi Dynamo of Kyrgyzstan. In 2009, Police crashed out at home finishing bottom of the table and in 2011 the departmental giant faced similar fate at home. In 2010, New Road Team (NRT) had represented Nepal, but failed to cross the group stage.
"Our primary target is to cross the group round in this edition and to regain our past glory," Police coach Birat Krishna Shrestha told Republica, who believes his side has failed to deliver favorable result at home despite putting up good show. "The team´s performance as well as results abroad has always been better compared to the results at home," said coach Shrestha, who guided Police to a record title hat-trick of domestic league.
Nepal is pitted alongside last year´s runners-up Phnom Penh Crown FC of host Cambodia, Dordoi Dynamo of Kyrgyzstan and Yeedzin FC of Bhutan in Group B. Top two teams from each of the three groups will secure their place in the final round. The final round will be played from September 24 to 30. But the venue for final is yet to be decided.
"The preparation for the President´s Cup is already over and the injured players of our squad are recovering," said Shrestha. According to the coach, striker and skipper Jumanu Rai, Suraj BK, Dipendra Paudel and Ramesh Katuwal were the injured players of his squad. BK, Katuwal and Paudel had ankle injury and they are recovering fast. "We need not worry much about injury of the three players, but Rai´s injury is bit serious. However, he is in the process of fast recovery."
Police lifted the title of British Gorkha Cup on Saturday. But skipper Rai missed the final due to his injury, and had not featured even for 15 minutes in the semifinal. "Rai might play in President´s Cup, but he may not be at his best."
The Police team will also be without the service of Nepali international midfielder cum forward Bharart Khawas. "Rai and Khawas had good pairing for last one year and absence of Khawas in the squad will definitely be a setback for the team," Shrestha said.
According to Shrestha, Dordoi Dynamo will be the toughest opponent for the departmental team while Yeedzin FC will comparatively be a weaker side. Police will take on Dynamo in its first match on May 5. "The first match against Dynamo will be vital for us and we´ll be eyeing for victory or draw as the results of the first match shall strengthen our hope of making into final round."
So far Police has played three times against Dynamo and lost on all occasion. "We have lost all three times due to our own mistakes. This time we will try not to repeat such mistakes," Shrestha said.
Dordoi Dynamo on May 5
Phnom Penh Crown FC on May 7
Yeedzin FC on May 9