Nepal’s Bimal Gharti Magar (C) runs with a ball during a training session in Kuching, Malaysia on Wednesday. Photo Courtesy: Anfa
KATHMANDU, Nov 3: Head coach of the Nepali national football team Gyotoku Koji has said that his team is targeting to clinch the title of AFC Solidarity Cup.
Speaking at the pre-tournament press conference in Kuching, Malaysia on Tuesday, Koji said he was optimistic to win the newly-launched Asian tournament.
Koji has led Nepal in just two matches since his appointment in March.
“In the last eight months, this team has played two matches -- against Malaysia U-22 and Laos under my guidance -- which we failed to win. This time we have prepared well and I am hopeful that we will win the title,” said Koji, who is leading Nepal for the first time in international tournament.
Nepal is drawn in Group A, which has only three teams including Brunei and Timor Leste.
Nepal is in a favorable group as the top two teams from the group will progress to the semifinal and winning only one match may be enough for Koji's side to reach the last four.
Koji also said that this tournament is very important for Nepal as it hasn't played any international matches at home ground following the destruction of the national stadium by the earthquake last year.
“The stadium has been damaged by the earthquake due to which we are unable to play international matches. Lifting up the title here will be a great boost for the team,” said Koji.
Brunei head coach Kwon Oh Son expressed his excitement to be a part of the nation's first ever AFC tournament. The South Korean coach Son said that the team will give its best despite facing multiple injury problems.
“We have come here with good preparation as we have played international matches including AFC Cup qualifiers. The weather and the environment here suits us, so I am hopeful of positive result,” said Son.
Son said that the energy and enthusiasm his players showed in the match against Timor a couple of weeks ago will be repeated in the tournament.
“Even though there is pressure of having only three teams in the group, we will be taking every match as the final,” Son added.
Timor Leste's head coach Fabio Da Silva said that he is focused on the team's performance more than the results. Despite the team not being able to produce good results since his appointment, Silva said he was happy with the overall performance of the team.
“Performance of the players is important for me over the result. If the team is performing well, the result will be definitely good. Sometimes it might not be good, but with time you can do better,” he added.
Silva also said that the Solidarity Cup is a very good exposure for his young players to gain the experience.
Timor Leste had faced defeat against Nepal four years ago. However, head coach Silva said that result doesn't matter as there have been lots of changes in the team since then.
“The past result does not matter for me. I was not there at that time, and with me I am hoping that we can change the result now,” Silva added.
Nepal will kick off the tournament against Timor Leste on Saturday and Brunei on November 8 in Group A of the tournament.