Photo Courtesy: NSJF Manang Marsyandgi Club’s head coach Chhiring Lopsang (3rd L) and team captain Anil Gurung (2nd L) attend a pre-match conference in Chittagong, Bangladesh on Sunday.
KATHMANDU, Feb 26: Manang Marsyangdi Club's head coach Chhiring Lopsang has predicted that his sides' semifinal clash of Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup against TC Sports Club of the Maldives on Monday will be an evenly-contested affair given the similar level of both the sides.
“Both teams have similar level so there is equal chance of the winning the semifinal match. One who plays better and utilizes the chances on the particular day will advance to the final of the competition,” said head coach Lopsang.
The tournament's first semifinal clash between Group A winner TC Sports Club and Group B runner-up Manang will be held at MA Aziz Stadium in Chittagong, Bangladesh. First-choice goalie of the Nepali national football team Kiran Chemjong will take charge of the post for TC against his former team for the first time after joining the Maldivian outfit a couple months ago.
“Our performance in the group stage was good though we had to depend on the outcome of others' result for the semifinal spot. My players are physically and mentally ready for the semifinal test. Our aim will be to beat the opponent in the normal time in order to make a place in the final,” added Lopsang.
Manang Marshyangdi Club was gifted semifinal ticket of the tournament on Friday after bottom of the table Mohammedan Sporting Club of Bangladesh produced 2-1 win over Shahneen Asmayee FC of Afghanistan.
A draw or defeat of Mohammedan would have sent Manang packing home after the Nepali club faced a 2-2 draw against home team Chittagong Abhani Limited despite taking 2-0 lead in its last group match on Friday.
Following the results, Manang confirmed its place in the last four as Group B runner-up finishing behind Chittagong Abhani. Manang finished the group stage with four points, one behind Chittagong Abhani and equal as that of Mohammedan. However, Manang secured semifinal stage by the virtue of head-to-head superiority over Mohammedan. Manang had defeated Mohammedan 2-0 in its opening match.
Lopsang also said that match against strong TC Sports studded with quality foreign recruits will be competitive. “The match against TC won't be an easy clash as they have some fine foreign players but we also have strong squad to overcome their challenge,” said Lopsang.
Similarly, Manang's skipper Anil Gurung expressed his optimism of defeating Maldivian opponent. “This time we have pretty strong team. We have eight national players, three foreign players and other talented young faces. If we perform up to our mark we can pull the victory against TC,” said Gurung.
Meanwhile, TC's head coach Mohamed Nizam labeled his team as favorite for the semifinal clash. “Both the teams have similar level but I think we can beat them and make it to the final,” said Nizam who is also the former captain of Maldives national team.
To make a place in the last four as group winner, TC had defeated home side Abahani Dhaka and visiting team FC Alga Bishkek of Kyrgyzstan 1-0 and 2-1 respectively while played 1-1 draw with South Korean club FC Pochean.
Similarly, Manang defeated home side Mohammedan Sporting Club 2-0 before facing 3-1 defeat to Afghanistan's Shaheen Asmayee and produced 2-2 draw against another Bangladeshi team Chittagong Abahani Limited in the last group stage match before advancing to the semifinals as Group B runner-up.
The second semifinal match will see Group B winner Chittagong Abahani Limited vying with Group A runner-up FC Pocheon of South Korea a day later at the same venue.