(From left) Captain cum goalkeeper of Friends of Japan Yosuke Nozawa, Nepal’s captain Anil Gurung, former Japan international Toda Kazuyuki (coach cum player) and Nepal’s coach Gyotoku Koji after a pre-match conference at ANFA Complex, Satdobato on Friday. (Photo Courtesy: ANFA)
KATHMANDU, Nov 18: Nepal’s national football team is playing against ‘Friends of Japan’ in a charity match to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relation between Nepal and Japan, at ANFA complex, Satdobato on Saturday.
The visiting team will be led by former Japan international Toda Kazuyuki who represented the country during the 2002 World Cup. Besides Kazuyuki, the team will be studded with current and former players of J-League, the premier division football league of Japan, as well as other players based in foreign countries. Home team Nepal will have the same squad which was crowned the champion of AFC Solidarity Cup that concluded on Tuesday.
Kazuyuki, who also has the experience of playing in the English Premier League with Tottenham Hotspour said that he expects the game against Nepal’s national team to be interesting. “I hope many spectators will be at the stadium to watch us and hopefully we will make them happy playing beautiful game,” said Kazuyuki, who is the coach-cum-player of the team.
He also said that he watched Nepal’s matches against Brunei and Laos in Solidarity Cup and expects to beat the home team led by his former mentor. “Gyotoku Koji used to be my coach during my school days back in Japan but when I meet his team on the ground I will play for a win,” said Kazuyuki.
This charity match, being jointly organized by ANFA and Colorbath, also aims to raise funds for the development of sports and reconstruction of educational institutions hit by last years’ earthquake that rocked the country.
Yosuke Nozawa, goalkeeper of the Japanese team, said that he can feel the effects of the earthquake as he is also from the nation where earthquakes occur frequently. “There are frequent earthquakes in my country as well, so I can feel what effects it brings. Hopefully, we will see big number of spectators during the match so that we can raise fund as much as we can for the earthquake-affected areas of this country,” said Nozawa, who currently plays in S-League in Singapore with Niigata FC.
Gyotoku Koji, who lead Nepal to the title of the AFC Solidarity Cup, recently said his team won’t be under pressure while playing against the Japanese team. “We have some injuries but we will have good team to field against the visiting team with view of registering win,” said Koji.
He also admitted that he was very happy about the way the Nepali football fans welcomed the team at the airport when they returned from Malaysia after winning the Solidarity Cup few days back. “Winning the tournament made us obviously happy but the reception we got from the fans made us happier,” said Koji.
Anil Gurung, captain of the national team, said that his team is looking forward to extend the success of the Solidarity Cup with the win over the Japanese team.