KATHMANDU, August 10: National football team skipper Anil Gurung has said that the Japan tour would be fruitful for the Nepali team which is preparing for AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers' clash against Tajikistan to be held on home ground next month.
Speaking at a function organized by the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) in the capital on Thursday to bid farewell to Japan bound Nepali team, Anil said that his team is taking the 10-day Japan visit as a great opportunity for learning.
“Since it is a football, there will be wins and defeats but our main aim is to learn new skills in Japan. The Nepali national side is going there after many years so hopefully, this tour will have a positive impact on our team,” said striker Anil. Nepal's last Japan visit was in 1997 to take part in the World Cup qualifying matches.
“There is a quality gap between Nepali and Japanese football but still such tour is important and should be organized before every international tournament,” added Anil who has won 49 caps for Nepal.
The 30-member Nepali team that includes 24 players is leaving for Japan on Friday where it will play five matches. Nepal will compete against two youth teams, two university teams, and one regional club.
Besides that, Nepali team will also watch the training sessions of two J-league (Japanese first division) clubs and watch one match as well.
Nepal will kick off the tour taking on the U-23 team of the Japanese first division outfit Gamba Osaka on August 13.
Three days later, Nepal will face Kwansei Gakuin University while in the third match it will compete against regional football team Amities Sports Club on August 17.
Likewise in the third match on August 18, Nepal will face Hanan University and later it will wrap up the tour by playing against another Japanese first division club Vissel Kobe's U-18 team.
Meanwhile, Nepal's head coach Gytoku Koji said that he was not sure about how much Nepali players are going to improve from the Japanese tour.
However, Koji said that playing against the Japanese sides would help his team in preparing to face Tajikistan in AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers match. Nepal, pitted in group D of the qualifiers, had begun its campaign with 4-1 defeat to the Philippines in March.
But with an improved performance, Nepal produced a goalless draw against Yemen at Halchok Stadium, Kathmandu in June.
ANFA President Narendra Shrestha said that Japan tour would lift up the confidence of Nepali players. “We achieved international success last year and this year as well we have a chance of qualifying for Asian cup. Hopefully, this tour will strengthen our bid to secure a place in continent's highest level tournament,” Shrestha said.
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Meanwhile, Japanese ambassador to Nepal Masashi Ogawa said that he wanted to see Nepali team producing victories against the Japanese teams. “I would like to wish good luck to the Nepali team. I want to see Nepali team producing wins in Japan,” said Ogawa.
He also said that he was hopeful of Nepali players implementing the skills and techniques they will learn in Japan, against Tajikistan.