Nepal seek one point to qualify

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Nepal seek one point to qualify

Sep 10, 2014-

Nepal take on DPR Korea on Thursday with draw sufficient for the footballing minnows to secure a quarter-final berth in the AFC U-16 Championship in Thailand.

In the Group ‘C’ match at the Rajamangala Stadium, Nepal may appear in better position to advance but DPR Korea are the clear favourites to collect all three points especially as the 2010 champions need all three points to ensure their own place in the last eight. Only top two teams make it to the quarter-finals with Ubzbekistan and Nepal currently occupying the position on four points each. The Koreans have only three. Nepal are behind holders Uzbekistan on goal difference.

Nepal, who opened the tournament with a valiant 1-1 draw against Uzbekistan, beat Kuwait 2-1 on Tuesday. The Koreans were stunned by Uzbekistan 3-2 in their second match on Tuesday but against the nation who have played in the 2010 Fifa World Cup finals, Nepal will go into the match as underdogs. The Koreans had opened their campaign with a crushing 3-0 victory over Kuwait.

Nepal coach Bal Gopal Maharjan said his team requires to hold on for the first 30 minutes to take grip of the game. “North Korean strikers and midfielders play with quick pace and if we succeed to hold them for the first half an hour, we can take control of the match,” said Maharjan adding the North Koreans are not used to playing under pressure. “They were nervous when they trailed against Uzbekistan in their second match. Their defence and goalkeeping looks a bit weak and we have to take full advantage of that.”

Skipper Bimal Gharti Magar has taken the match like a final and said his team will play against North Korea for victory. “Our target is to play the U-17 World Cup. If we are to materialise our dreams of playing in the World Cup, we have to cross the group stage first. I am sure that our team will play against them for victory but not a draw,” said Gharti Magar. Only the semi-finalists will earn tickets to the U-17 World Cup next year to be held in Chile.

After missing the first match against Uzbekistan due to suspension, Gharti Magar returned to the side to convert the match-winning spot kick against Kuwait on Tuesday. He was injured during a friendly match against Thailand but assistant coach Sunil Shrestha believed the skipper will come up with an influential display on Thursday. “Bimal has experience of playing a top level football. He was not able to give his best against Kuwait due to the nagging injury but he has recovered a lot now. If he gives his 100 per cent against North Korea, it will be very helpful for other strikers,” said Shrestha adding he was confident to return with victory.

“This is one of the most talented young squads Nepali football has at the moment. Our youngsters are probably displaying quality football after a long time. We were not able to deliver our best in the first two matches. We missed Bimal in the first match and most of our post attempts were denied by Kuwait. If we play with cool head, we can defeat North Korea,” said Shrestha.

Published: 11-09-2014 09:26

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