Sports

Nepal look to end winless streak asian games: football

- PRAJWAL OLI, Kathmandu

Aug 13, 2018-

Nepal look to erase an unwanted record of never winning a match in the Asian Games when they kick start their campaign against the mighty Japan in Indonesia on Tuesday.

Apart from Japan, Nepal are pitted in Group ‘D’ with another strong team Vietnam but have a realistic chance of beating Pakistan considering the past records. The two team have met 14 times with Nepal winning five, losing four and drawing five games.

Nepal only resumed their participation in Asiad from 2014 in South Korea after 16 years. The football governing body, All Nepal Football Association (Anfa), deemed participation useless after a poor run of results. In their four participations since their first in 1982 until 1998, Nepal conceded 52 goals in 12 games. In the last edition, they gave away 13 goals in three games.

The gulf between Nepal and the rest of the Asian nations is also evident by the fact that Nepal have only once scored in the regional meet. YB Ghale struck the goal in their 3-1 loss against Kuwait during the 1982 Games in India. Nepal coach Bal Gopal Maharjan, assistant to the head coach Gyotoku Koji, argues that his side’s ambition were realistic this time and could break the goal drought as well record a historic win. Top two teams from each of the six groups along with four best third-placed nations will make to the Round of 16. The Asiad football is an U-23 event but each team is allowed to field three over-aged players.

A 20-member Nepali team on Sunday left for Indonesia after a nine-day training camp in Bangkok. Nepal did not have the ideal preparation though, losing both their friendly matches in Bangkok. They lost 1-0 to the top-tier Thai League 1 side Tero Police FC and 4-0 against the U-23 Thailand team. Maharjan said the Bangkok tour was aimed at preparing team not just for the Asiad but also the Saff Championship, slated for September 4-15 in Dhaka. “Pakistan are on par with our team and we are targeting them to record first ever win at the level,” said Maharjan, who was even setting eyes on reaching the second round.     

In the last edition in Incheon, South Korea, Nepal lost 5-0 to Japan before losing to Iraq and Kuwait with an identical 4-0 scorelines. The Nepali team is fielding dynamic midfielder Rohit Chand, goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong and midfielder Bishal Rai in the over-aged quota.

Chand, who pursues professional career from Indonesian top-tier side Persija Jakarta, is entrusted with the captaincy. Japan are ranked 61st in Fifa rankings and Vietnam are 102th. In contract, Nepal languish at the 161st position providing the glimpse of what to expect in the two match. Pakistan are on the contrary well below Nepal at 201st in Fifa rankings.

Maharjan believed Nepal have to adopt completely different approach in each of the three games. “Japan are a world class team and need to stop goal-flow. We have to target for a draw at least against Vietnam but we have to go all guns firing against Pakistan,” said Maharjan. Maharjan said the team take positives from the Bangkok tour. “The results (in Thailand) were obviously not good but the games allowed us to address our weaknesses.

After playing Japan on Tuesday, Nepal will take on Vietnam on Thursday before wrapping up their league campaign with a clash against Pakistan on August 19.

Nepal’s performance in Asian Games

Year    P    W    L    GF    GA

1982 (India)    3    0    3    1    9

1986 (S Korea)    4    0    4    0    17

1994 (Japan)    3    0    3    0    20

1998 (Thailand)    2    0    2    0    6

2014 (S Korea)    3    0    3    0    13

Squad

Goalkeeper: Kiran Chemjong, Alan Neupane, Sojit Gurung

Defender: Ananta Tamang, Aditya Chaudhary, Kamal Shrestha, Suman Aryal, Dinesh Rajbansi, Gaurav Budathoki, Tshiring Gurung

Midfielder: Rohit Chand, Heman Gurung, Hemanth Thapa Maga, rBishal Rai, Sunil Bal, Tej Tamang

Forward: Suman Lama, Abhishekh Rijal, Bimal Gharti Magar, Anjan Bista

Published: 13-08-2018 10:45

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