Nepal have pride to play for as Philippines eye qualification

  • Afc Asian Cup Qualifiers
- Post Report, Lalitpur

Nov 14, 2017-

Already eliminated Nepal have pride at stake when they take on Philippines in their penultimate Group ‘F’ match of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers at the Anfa Complex grounds in Satdobato on Tuesday.

Having lost the first leg to the same opponents 4-1 in Manili on March 28 and out of the qualifying race with just one point from four games, Nepali have nothing to lose and everything to gain. On the contrary, Philippines stay on top of the four-team standings with eight points coming into the game and victory on Tuesday will all but secure their passage for next year’s Finals in the United Arab Emirates. Philippines are 116th in the Fifa rankings while Nepal are at 176th.

Philippines are unbeaten so far in four games having won twice and drawn twice. Bottom-placed Nepal on the other hand have yet to record a win and their only point coming through a goalless draw against the touring side Yeman in June. Yemen stay second on six point, the same as third-placed Tajikistan. Only the top two teams from each of the six qualifying pools earn tickets to the finals.

While Nepal stressed on the improving performance and minimising the mistakes from their previous clash, Philippines are counting on beating the home team and ease their way to the finals. Philippines skipper Philip James Younghusband said. “This match is the biggest ever for us as we are now very close to qualifying for the Asian Cup for the first time.

Younghusband’s Nepali counterpart Anil Gurung took a more cautious approach to the match, saying: Philippines are tough team and their level is too high. But as usual, we always go into the field for victory and Tuesday will be no exception. We are taking the game seriously and have to work really hard to get a positive outcome. We care less about the result though.” Philippines have won four of the five encounters against Nepal. Nepal’s only victory against the opponents dates back to 1982 Kings Cup when they pipped Azkals 1-0.

Philippines coach Thomas Dooley downplayed the significance of the last win over Nepal. “The past result bears no significance as we take every game as the new one. We are well prepare for the game but do not underestimate Nepal,” said the former captain of American football team. “Nepal is very good team and we do nat take them lightly,” added the coach.    

Nepal’s Japanese coach Gyotoku Koji said that his side has a good preparation and hope to improve on their performance. “We have been focusing on getting rid of our past mistakes which has been in defence. We have tried to strengthen it for the game,” added Koji.  Koji also revealed that his key defenders Aditya Chaudhary and Devendra Tamang were ruled out of the match due to injuries.

Recalled Gurung announces retirement

Striker Anil Gurung and midfielder Jagjeet Shrestha were included in the 23-member Nepali national football team announced on Monday on the eve of their AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers match against Philippine.

Gurung, who will also wear the captain’s armband, has been out of the team since Nepal hosted Yemen on June 13. He was ignored for a double header against Tajikistan due to “injury.”

On a day of his recall Gurung, however, annnounced that he will bring the curtain down to his decade-long career after the Philippines match. The 31-year-old said: “It was not an easy decision but it is the appropriate time since young players are coming in.”  Gurung will also reach 50-cap milestone on Tuesday. “Football has provided me a lot. But I always regret not winning the Saff Champin-ship,” added Gurung who has scored nine goals for Nepal. 

Gurung, who marked his international debut during the 2007 World Cup Qualifiers against Oman, wore the captain’s armband since 2015 Saff Championship in Trivandrum, India. He is just the handful of Nepali players to reach the 50-match milestone. But following the Saff campaign, he has got very less playing time and has been in and out of the team.

Besides Gurung, winger Jagjeet Shrestha and goalkeeper Bishal Shrestha also marked their comeback to the team. Goalkeeper Allan Neupane and defenders Aditya Chaudhary and Devendra Tamang were the players who were left out of the squad that played against Tajikistan on Oct 10. Winger Shrestha has been out of the national team for the last one and half year. Asked about his recall, Koji said: “Anfa has called him and you should ask them on how he was drafted in,” said the coach. (PR)

Nepali Squad

Goalkeeper: Kiran Limbu, Bikesh Kutu, Bishal Shrestha

Defender: Biraj Maharjan, Rohit Chand, Ananta Tamang, Kamal Shrestha, Jitendra Karki, Rajendra Rawal, Dinesh Rajbanshi

Midfielder: Sujal Shrestha, Bishal Rai, Bikram Lama, Anjan Bista, Jagjeet Shrestha, Heman Gurung, Hemant Thapa Magar, Sunil Bal

Forward: Bharat Khawas, Bimal Gharti Magar, Anil Gurung, Nawayug Shrestha, George Prince Karki

Published: 14-11-2017 08:40

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