Footballers gear up for valuable exposure

  • Football team’s tour of Japan
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 11, 2017-A 30-member Nepali national football team is leaving for Japan on Friday as part of their preparations for the AFC Asia Cup Championships Qualifiers. 

It will be the first Japan tour of Nepali national team since 1997 when they visited Japan for World Cup qualifiers. The Nepali team will play five friendly matches in Japan: two against the age-group teams of top-tier Japanese clubs and three against University and local teams. Nepal will play the U-23 team of Gamba Osaka on August 13 and U-18 team of Vissel Kobe on August 19. They will also take on Kwansei Gakuien University on August 16, Amitie Sports Club on August 17 and Hanan University on August 18. 

The Nepali team is also scheduled to watch a J-League match and undergo training camp in Japan.

Nepal were invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Japan Football Association under Sports for Tomorrow project. According to Nepal’s Japanese coach Gyotoku Koji, the impact of the tour will be known only after performance against Tajikistan. Nepal are slated to host Tajikistan on September 5 in their third Group ‘F’ match of the Asia Cup Qualifiers. Nepal had lost 4-1 away to Philippines in the tournament opener on March 28 and held Yemen to a 0-0 draw at Halchowk on June 13 in the four-team group. 

Nepal will visit Osaka and Kyoto in Japan, the cities that have revived after natural disaster in 1995. The Nepali team will also be visiting disaster prevention centres during their stay in Japan. Japanese Ambassador to Nepal Masashi Ogawa said that Japan was supporting more than 100 countries in sports through Sports for Tomorrow project before they host 2020 Olympics. Ogawa also urged Nepal to implement the knowledge and skills learnt in Japan while playing against Tajikistan.

“The tour will be really helpful ahead of the Tajikistan match,” Nepal skipper Anil Gurung said during a farewell programme organised by All Nepal Football Association (Anfa) on Thursday. “Playing against better opponents in Japan will help strengthen our mind set. We have several young players and they will gain valuable exposure,” added Gurung.  

Japanese Ambassador Ogawa, Anfa President Narendra Shrestha and National Sports Council Member Secretary Keshab Kumar Bista among other bade farewell to the team. The team will be accompanied to Japan by assistant coach Raju Kaji Shakya, goalkeeping coach Ujwal Manandhar, manager Birat Jung Shahi and doctor Raju Dangol.

Published: 11-08-2017 09:16

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