ILAM, April 7: Rumpum Jhapa XI's team manager Gopal Rai has said that his team needs to improve its defense if the Jhapa-based outfit wants to defend the title of Mai Valley Gold Cup Football Tournament beating Tribhuvan Army Club in the summit clash on Saturday. The champion of the second edition Jhapa XI and chamion of the first edition Army will compete in the final match to be held in Ilam's Tundikhel.
“We have not been able to display solid performance in defense until now in the tournament but when we take on a strong team like Army on Saturday we will have to be defensively soild,” said team manager Rai ahead of the final clash against departmental side Army.
Defending champion Jhapa XI which had beaten Armed Police Force (APF) 2-0 in the final of the second edition last year overcame the same team in the semifinal of this edition.
“Army is a very strong team. Its players are physically tough and they have pace and strength. Though Army is comparatively better than us we will try to play possession-based football and produce goals in order to pull victory,” said Rai.
Jhapa XI is likely to field domestic star strikers Karna Limbu and Bishal Rai upfront with Buddha Chemjong and Ranjit Shrestha supporting them from the wings.
Meanwhile, Army's head coach Nabin Neupane expressed his confidence over lifting the Mai Valley title. “We have talented squad with national players so I am very confident over beating Jhapa in the final,”
“Though Jhapa's players have done well in this tournament, my players are physically and technically better than them so I think we can easily pull the victory,” added Neupane.
Army's head coach Neupane is likely to continue skipper Bharat Khawas as striker and field quick wingers Bibek Basnet and Tanka Basnet to support national team striker. Army's goalkeeping charge will be taken by national team goalie Bikesh Kuthu while Jitendra Karki will be partnered by Suman Aryal in the central defense.
Neupane also admitted that his team will miss regular striker Nawayug Shrestha who has been out since last month due to injury adding he has new player with the ability of filling the national team attacker. “We have nurturing young players for upcoming league so I think they can fill the void left by Nawayug,” ended Neupane.