KATHMANDU: Nepal will go for a kill when they take on Yemen in their second match of the AFC U-22 Championship Group D Qualifiers at the Dasharath Stadium on Monday.
The hosts got off to a flying start on Saturday with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Bangladesh and coach Krishna Thapa hopes to carry on with the same momentum against a team which is below Nepal in the FIFA rankings. Nepal are currently in the 149th spot in the FIFA rankings — 10 positions ahead of Yemen.
“An offensive approach was the key for us in our dominating win against Bangladesh,” said Thapa. “So, we will go with the same approach against Yemen as well. We will keep on attacking right from the outset,” said coach Thapa on the eve of the match.
Thapa was watching from the stands when Yemen were crushed 4-0 by Jordan in their opening match and the Nepal coach is well aware of their weaknesses.
“I have seen Yemen equally good on technical grounds but the only thing that separates us with them is the physical strength,” Thapa said. “None of my boys appeared exhausted after playing for 90 minutes against Bangladesh. They are physically fit enough to go one step ahead of Yemen,” said Thapa.
Thapa, however, is not in the mood to take Yemen lightly. “We saw how Bangladesh piled up pressure on us on Saturday, even if that was for a brief period. All we need to do on Monday is to play with our potential,” he said.
Nepal will face the biggest test with Uzbekistan (June 20) and Jordan (June 22), against whom Thapa is targeting to steal at least a point. So Thapa knows anything less than a victory against Yemen will hit Nepal hard in their bid to progress into the finals.
“I have already said before the tournament that we have set a modest target of holding any of these two teams if not the both. To remain in the qualification hunt, we are not in a mood to compromise with less than a victory,” Thapa said informing he will field the same starting-XI if defender Deepak Bhushal manages to recover from fever.
“Deepak underwent some light training today,” added Thapa. “Hopefully he will recover in time to play against Yemen. I will decide on his inclusion after consulting our doctor. Otherwise, we have Rabi Thapa as a good back-up to replace him,” informed the coach. In the early match on Monday, Uzbekistan will play Bangladesh.
Nepal’s probable squad Goalkeeper: Bishal Shrestha; Defenders: Bikash Singh Chhetri, Rohit Chand, Rabin Shrestha, Deepak Bhusal/Rabi Thapa; Midfielders: Rupesh KC, Shiva Shrestha, Jagjit Shrestha, Anil Ojha; Forwards: Sujal Shrestha and Bharat Khawas (skipper).