Players of Nepal U-18 football team during a training session at the Jawalakhel Youth Club’s football ground in Lalitpur in this recent photo. Photo Courtesy: ANFA
KATHMANDU, Aug 9: Nepal is set to take on Pakistan in the opening match of the third edition of the SAFF U-18 Championship to be held in Nepal next month.
In a draw of the tournament held in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Thursday, it was decided that Nepal will take on Pakistan in the first match of the tournament.
Nepal is pitted in Group A which consists of Bhutan and Maldives along with Pakistan. Likewise, the Group B features Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka.
The defending champion Nepal will face Pakistan on September 20, while it takes on Maldives in its second match of the group on September 22. In the tournament to be held in league cum knockout format, the host nation will play against Bhutan in its last game on September 24.
The teams are divided into two groups and the top two teams of each group will advance into the semifinals. The final will be played on September 29 and all the matches will be played at the Halchowk Stadium of Armed Police Force (APF).
There will be two matches in the group stages each day in the tournament, which sees the participation of Pakistan and Sri Lanka for the first time in the history of this competition.
“We have won the title of the second edition of the tournament. We have been practicing hard to defend our title in this edition,’’ Head Coach, Chet Narayan Shrestha said. “We have called upon 46 players for the preliminary selection. We will shorten the list to 30 on Tuesday, and two weeks after that, we will announce the 23-member list for the tournament.” Nepal had won the earlier two editions of the tournament organized in Nepal in 2015 and in Bhutan in 2017.
In the first edition played at the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) Complex in Satdobato, Nepal defeated India 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, while it won two straight SAFF beating the same opponent 2-0.
Nepal is looking to win a hat-trick of the SAFF Championship since it is organizing the tournament second time in four years.