Malla’s return boosts Nepali confidence

KATHMANDU: The Nepali squad, preparing for the AFC U-19 Championship Group A qualifiers to begin here from October 25 to November 4, is boosted after the news of return of their influential striker and skipper Nirajan Malla.

Malla was doubtful for the qualifiers after sustaining injury during practice on October 14. Malla suffered a swelling in his ligament of the right ankle during practice. After the doctors removed his plasters today, Malla is all set to join the trainig camp from Thursday.

Former national team skipper and coach Raju Kaji Shakya and assistant coach Kishore KC are looking after the U-19 team. Shakya said his camp is boosted after Malla got a go ahead from doctors. “We know his importance in the team. As he sustained the injury we requested the doctors for a quick recovery. We will observe his progress before deciding to include him in the team,” said Shakya.

Malla is one of the few big names in the camp and is known of his effort and high percentage of conversion rate. Malla has been the match winner for the ANFA team for a long time. His game was also well appreciated during the Inter-club National Football Tournament in Abu Khaireni two months back where he led his team into the final but lost the hard fought match against the Tribhuvan Army Club in penalty shootouts.

Defender Rohit Chand, who also played the Prime Minister Cup from the national team and the AFC President’s Cup is another reliable player for Nepal. Mid-fielders Ganesh Khadka and Shiva Shrestha and

defender Dipak Bhushal

are the other notable players in the camp.

However, Shakya rates all of his players as the

best. “Since, the 90 per cent of the players are from

the ANFA Academy, they can communicate well and are capable of setting a good game,” added Shakya. Roshan Devkota, Komal Khawas and Praveen Sainju are the only players outside the Academy.

The U-19 team has been practicing for a long time

together and has played quite a few reputed tournaments where they have

performed well. “We have been putting good challenges against the top A

Division clubs like Nepal

Police, Army and Three

Star. Their performances against the tough teams have generated confidence in us that they will put up a good show,” added Shakya.

Nepal will take on Yemen in their opening match of the tournament on October 25. Nepal lost 2-0 when they last played Yemen in 2007 at the AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers. The hosts will then play Kyrgyzstan on October 27 and Tajikistan on October 30.

On November 1, Nepal are scheduled to play Jordan before rounding up their campaign against Palestine on the final day. Shakya said his side would also be boosted by the home conditions and support but he believed on team’s technical skills and team work for good results.