(From left) Nepal’s national women’s team manager Shivani Thapa, head coach Kumar Thapa, Malaysian women’s team’s head coach Mohd Asyraaf Fong Abdullah and captain Masfurah Majid hold a ball during a pre-match conference in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on Sunday/Photo Courtesy: NSJF
KATHMANDU, May 21: On the eve of Nepal's friendly match against Malaysia, national women's football team head coach Kumar Thapa said that Monday's friendly match against Malaysia will be tricky.
“Malaysia is a very strong team, it has a lot of international experience and importantly we are playing on its home ground. So the match won't be easy for us,” head coach Thapa told Republica on Sunday.
The Nepali team which is gearing up for the upcoming SAFF Women's Championship will play two friendlies against the 79th-ranked Malaysia, including the second match on Wednesday. Malaysia is hosting the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in its capital Kuala Lumpur is taking the matches against Nepal which is ranked 95 in FIFA rankings as preparation for its women's team. Nepal had travelled to Malaysia on Friday after two weeks long training while the host team has been training since three months.
In the last encounter, Nepal had defeated Malaysia 1-0 in with Sabitra Bhandari netting the only goal of the friendly match on December 17 played at ANFA Complex. However, head coach Thapa said that the result Nepal had produced against its opponent last year won't have any impact on Monday at Likas Stadium of Kota Kinabalu.
“It was five months ago. Past result doesn't have any impact in the match. We have to be very cautious and play up to our mark if we want to replicate that result,” added Thapa.
Thapa has made just one change in the Nepali squad that participated in the SAFF Women's Championship 2016 held in India from December 26 to January 4.
Armed Police Force (APF)'s midfielder Sajana Rana has been included in the squad replacing Dipa Adhikari of Tribhuvan Army Club. Head coach Thapa is also likely to give the captain's armband to Sajana as she is senior to her club mate Renuka Nagarkotee, who had captained the Nepali team in SAFF Championship held in India.
Thapa is set to continue the 4-2-3-1 formation on Monday with his first-choice goalkeeper Anjila Subba taking charge of the goalpost. The defense comprising of Gita Rana, Manmaya Limbu, Hira Kumari Bhujel and Punam Jargha Magar is likely to continue with Renuka Nagarkotee and Dipa Rai playing just in front of them in central midfield. Thapa is set to give the role of lone central forward to Sabitra Bhandari with Anita Basnet, Manjali Kumari Yonjan and skipper Sajana playing behind the APF striker who had scored highest 12 goals in the last edition of SAFF Women's Championship.
Meanwhile, Malaysian head coach Mohd Asyraaf Fong Abdullah said that his players are highly motivated and are eyeing revenge against Nepal.
“We had lost to Nepal in a friendly last year. My players are ready to take revenge,” said Malaysia head coach Abdullah who has made nine changes in his squad.