KATHMANDU, May 6: Nepal Police Club on Monday will take on home team Phnom Penh Crown FC of Cambodia in its second group stage match of the AFC President´s Cup under way in Cambodia.
After going down 5-1 at the hands of Kyrgyzstan league champion Dordoi during the opener of its campaign, Police must pull off a victory to strengthen its dream of making into final stage. A draw or a defeat is likely to end the departmental team´s run from the qualifying stage.
Unlike Nepal, the home team possesses high morale following an impressive 8-0 win over Yeedzin FC of Bhutan in the curtain raiser.
Police and the home team Phnom Penh have never met each other previously. However, Police, the runner up of 2007, have defeated then Cambodian champion Khemera 6-4 during group stage match in Pakistan.
But Nepal´s performance in President´s Cup has been deteriorating since 2007. In 2008, Police crashed out from the semifinal and the next year it crashed out from the group stage finishing at the bottom of table. In 2010, New Road Team (NRT) of Nepal faced a similar fate and in 2011 Police again crashed out from the group round.
Before his team´s departure to Cambodia, Police coach Birat Krishna Shrestha had accepted that the Cambodian football has improved a lot since 2007 when his team defeated Khemera 6-4. "Though Cambodian football has improved a lot compared to previous years, we hope to beat the home team. Dordoi is the strongest team of the group," Shrestha had told Republica."Despite improvement, Cambodian football is not much better than Nepal."
As the home team Phnom Penh will have the advantage of home ground and home crowd, the injury of some of the key players of Police like Jumanu Rai, Suraj BK, Dipendra Paudel has worried the Police team.
Forward Jumanu Rai was forced to leave the field in 22nd minute during Saturday´s match while another forward Bharat Khawas left the team in the beginning of new season. Coach Shrestha had assigned the attacking job to midfielders Yogesh Shrestha and Bhola Silwal.
On Saturday, Phnom Penh forward Khim Borey´s had completed hat-trick against 8-0 win over Yeezdin FC of Bhutan. Police had conceded three initial three goals due to defensive lapse. Thus Police must be wary of sharp forwards of the home team.
In the day´s kick off match, Dordoi of Kyrgyzstan will take on Yeezdin FC of Bhutan.