AFC Solidarity Cup

Coach Koji confident of making it to final

Published On: November 12, 2016 01:10 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHAMDNU, Nov 11: National football team head coach Gyotoku Koji has expressed his confidence in reaching the final of the AFC Solidarity Cup defeating Laos in the semifinal clash on Saturday. Nepal, which progressed to the last four of the competition as Group A winner, will face Group B runner-up Laos at the Negari Stadium in Kuching, Malaysia. 

However coach Koji said that he is not going to undermine Laos despite claiming that Nepal has higher chance of winning the game than its opponent. 

“We played friendly against Laos few months back and the result was 1-1 draw. They are a good side. Besides, they also displayed their superiority in their last group match against Mongolia,” Koji said at the pre-match conference held at the Negari Stadium.  

Nepal had played 0-0 draw against Timor Leste before producing 3-0 victory over Brunei in the last group stage match to cement its place in the last four. 

Koji once again pointed out that the pitch condition at the Negari Stadium would determine the playing style of the Nepali team.  “If it rains at the Negari Stadium, the game will be very difficult for us. Laos are used to playing in such conditions so they have advantage. But we have to be ready for any adverse situation,” said coach Koji. 

The Japanese who has been serving as Nepal's head coach since eight months said that victory over Brunei has boosted the morale of his players. “My boys are motivated with the victory and are hundred percent fit to play,” added Koji. 

Bharat Khawas and Nawayug Shrestha, who both netted a goal each in the last group stage match against Brunei, are likely to start up front. Koji is also likely to give Bimal Gharti Magar a winger role. It is also expected that the midfielders Heman Gurung and Bikram Lama to continue their role in next match. 

Koji is likely to continue the defense line of Rabin Shrestha, Aditya Chaudhary, Ananta Tamang and Biraj Maharjan along with goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong, which had helped Nepal to maintain clean-sheet in the group stage matches.  

Laos' head coach Valakone Phomphakdy also expected the semifinal clash against Nepal to be tough. 

“We have played a friendly match against Nepal earlier and the result was a draw. As the standard of our games is the same, we expect a competitive match,” said Phomphakdy.

Laos, which is nine places above Nepal in the FIFA rankings, defeated Sri Lanka and Mongolia with the scorelines of 2-1 and 3-0 respectively in Group B. However it lost to the group winner Macau 4-1 before qualifying for the last four as runner-up. 

Phomphakdy also expressed his concern regarding the local weather. “I hope that there won't be rain so that the pitch will remain good and that will help us have a good game in the semifinal,” added coach Phomphakdy.

However, Phomphakdy said that he is not taking any pressure for the knockout round as he is focusing on playing good game over the result. 

“We want to play good football and will focus on doing that rather than the results. All the players are fit and are preparing as per the plan. The change in the condition will change the game plan,” said Phomphakdy.  

In another semifinal clash, Group A runner-up Brunei will vie against Group B winner Macau on the same day.

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