Players of Nepali U-23 football team attend a training session at the ANFA Complex in Satdobato, Lalitpur, in this recent photo. Photo Courtesy: ANFA
KATHMANDU, July 11: Nepali U-23 football team which is at the last stage of preparation for the AFC U-23 2018 Qualifiers will face Bangladesh U-23 in a friendly match at ANFA Complex on Tuesday.
Head Coach Raju Kaji Shakya said that the match against fellow South Asian nation will be opportunity to test the level of the players ahead of the qualifiers which be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from July 15-19.
Nepal which has recorded just one win in the last two editions of the qualifiers will compete against strong opponents including host UAE, Uzbekistan and Lebanon at Tahnoun Bin Mohamed Stadium of Al Ain.
Head Coach Shakya rued for not being able to play a friendly against strong opponent for the preparation of continental qualifiers where Nepal has very poor record.
“Although we will find out the level of our players from this match, getting chance to play against a stronger team would have been more beneficial,” said Shakya in pre-match conference held in the capital on Monday.
Shakya said he is cautious about the potential injuries that could occur in a friendly adding he will have to be careful while using the squad. “Since we are very near to qualifiers, hopefully we won't bear any injury from this friendly. As the squad for the qualifiers is already announced, injury to any player will be disastrous so we will have to be careful,” added Shakya.
He also said that his team will play in a similar style that he has planned to play in the UAE. “We will execute the plans we have formulated during the training which also will be used in the qualifiers. Most probably we will opt 4-1-4-1 against Bangladesh and we also may use 4-5-1,” further informed Shakya.
Nepali team was in the closed camp for more than three weeks as part of preparations for the qualifiers with 28 players turning up for the training. Shakya then trimmed the squad to 23 members including 10 players from the national team, on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Skipper Bimal Gharti Magar said that the players have good understanding between them which will be helpful to play attacking football against Bangladesh. “Most of the players in this team have played together in U-16 and U-19 level so we have good understanding. We will play attacking football,” said striker Magar who is also a key member of the national team.
Bangladeshi head coach Andrew Ord praised the playing style of Nepali players. “Although I am new to South Asian football as it is my first tenure in Bangladesh but I have watched Nepali players playing. They were very fast and played aggressively against India and Yemen,” said Australian coach Ord.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh will travel to Palestine to take part in the qualifiers and will take on host Palestine, Jordan and Tajikistan in Group E matches.
“We trained for four weeks, our preparation has gone well so hopefully we can produce positive result,” added Ord.
Bangladeshi skipper Sohel Rana said that the match against Nepal is very important for his team and win against host team will raise the visiting team's confidence for upcoming qualifiers. “We have very tough opponents in the qualifiers so win against Nepal will boost our confidence. We have 5-6 national players in this side so hopefully we can play good football,” said Rana.