KATHMANDU, June 15: Nepal U-22 football team coach Krishna Thapa expressed hope to start AFC U-22 Group D Qualifiers on a winning note, as Nepal is set to take on Bangladesh on Saturday at the Dasharath Stadium.
"My boys are like war-horses and I hope we can easily beat Bangladesh in the first match," said Thapa at a pre-match conference on Friday. "My boys are physically fit and they have done tactically well during the training," he added.
Thapa reiterated that he wants victories against Bangladesh and Yemen in the first two matches of the qualifiers. "I have seen Bangladesh team train this morning (on Friday). They are physically better than my team but we are technically and tactically sharper," said Thapa.
Thapa put forward head-to-head records of the national teams of Nepal and Bangladesh in the recent past and claimed to continue Nepal´s superiority even in the U-22 level. "Though we are a U-22 team, we have some very good players with national team´s experience," Thapa said.
Nepali U-22 skipper Bharat Khawas, on the other hand, said he would do his best to prove his leadership. "I have experiences of playing for the national team and I´ll put them to use," said Khawas. "We have to win the first two matches and make strategy for the rest of the matches," he added. Nepal will take on Bangladesh on Saturday, Yemen on Monday, Uzbekistan on Wednesday and Jordan on Friday.
On the other hand, Bangladesh coach Syed Golam Jilani also said he wants to pull favorable results against Nepal and Yemen. "I respect all teams but we´ll try to pull best result against Nepal and Yemen," said Jilani. "We respect Nepal but we are not afraid," he added.
Bangladesh U-22 captain Shahedul Alam said Nepal and Bangladesh share same level and the Saturday´s match would be competitive.
In the opening match of the qualifiers, Yemen will take on Jordan at the Dasharath Stadium.
Jordan coach Islam Daibat rated all teams as equal in strength but revealed their expectation of qualifying for the final round. "We are ready for the first match against Yemen and it is very important for us to win the match," said Daibat.
Meanwhile, Yemen coach Abraham Mebratu said that they are carefully evaluating their opponents. "We´ll play seriously against all the teams in the tournament. We´ll treat all the opponents equal," said Mebratu. "We have young boys in the team. They lack international exposure. However, we want to qualify for the final round," he added.
Uzbekistan is the other team in the group D qualifiers. Uzbekistan will play its first match against Bangladesh on Monday. Uzbekistan coach Aleksey Evstafeev said his team is confident about qualifying for the final rounds. He informed that seven of his players have had Olympic football experience.
Top two teams of the group will qualify for the final round of the AFC U-22 Championship.