KATHMANDU, June 25: Nepal U-23 football team is set to play a friendly match against Bangladesh U-23 team on July 11. The youth teams of the two countries which are currently preparing for the upcoming AFC U-23 Qualifiers will lock horns at ANFA Complex, Satdobato.
Nepal, which is pitted in Group D in the qualifiers, will face host United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uzbekistan and Lebanon at Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium, Al Ain.
Nepal will kick off its qualifying campaign taking on the UAE on July 19 while it will face Uzbekistan two days later. Likewise, Nepal will wrap up the qualifiers competing against Lebanon in its last match on July 23.
Similarly, Bangladesh is drawn in Group E alongside host Palestine, Jordan and Tajikistan.
Meanwhile, Nepali team is currently preparing for the qualifiers of the continental age-group tournament under head coach Raju Kaji Shakya, who took charge of the team recently after Megh Raj KC turned down the offer.
Although, All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) had called up 35 players for the training that started on June 15, only 28 players have turned up including 10 players from the national team. Bimal Gharti Magar, Anjan Bista, Alan Neupane, Ananta Tamang, Sunil Bal, Suman Lama, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Heman Gurung, Hemanta Thapa Magar and Kamal Shrestha are the national team players called up for the U-23 side as they meet the age requirement.
Meanwhile, head coach Shakya said despite the friendly against Bangladesh being organized in the last moment, it will be helpful for the team to know its weaknesses. “If this friendly had been organized a bit earlier, maybe a week before, it would have been more fruitful. But still, we have taken it as an opportunity to mark our weaknesses,” said Shakya.
The Nepali team will leave for the UAE on July 13 for the qualifiers, just two days after the friendly against fellow South Asian nation Bangladesh.
Shakya also informed that the priliminary squad became a little smaller as some players called up for the training had over-age and document issuees . “We had called up 35 players for training, but some of the players had over-age issue. So, the preliminary squad became relatively small,” added Shakya.
He also informed that the final squad that will consist 23 players, which will be finalized after the Bangladesh friendly.
Nepal has poor record in the AFC U-23 qualifiers as it has registered just one win in the last two editions. The Nepali football team under Jack Stefanowski had lost all four matches in the 2016 qualifiers held in Iran.
Nepal had lost to host Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Palestine in Group C conceding 17 goals while failing to score any goal.
In the qualifiers of the inaugural 2013 edition, held in Nepal, the host nation under Krishna Thapa registered just one win out of four matches.
Except its 4-1 win over Bangladesh, Nepal lost all other matches against Yemen, Uzbekistan and Jordan.