Lalitpur, November 7:
Nepal is all set to host Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in the Group F qualifying competition for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-17 Championship Football Tournament from November 13-17 in Kathmandu.
The three-match qualifying tournament begins on November 13 with a match between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan at Dasharath Stadium. Nepal will play against Kyrgyzstan on November 15 and is scheduled to play against Uzbekistan after two days.
The AFC has divided the 45 participating Asian nations in 15 groups â€” four groups each in West Asia zone, Central and South Asia zone, and ASEAN zone and three groups in East Asia zone. Top team from all the 15 groups along with hosts Bangladesh will advance to the quarter-finals.
â€œOur mian aim is to play in U-17 and U-19 World Cups, and have been investing heavily in the Youth Development Project, so we hope to qualify for the finals, said Ganesh Thapa, president of All Nepal Football Association, at a press meet today.
Nepal has already announced the 25-member team including four officials. Raju Shakya and Diken Suwal are the coaches, while YB Ghale, president of Youth Development Project under ANFA, is the team leader and Ghatak Shumsher Rana is the team manager.
The players are Kiran Kumar Limbu, Sandip Thapa, Bikash Singh Chhetry, Biraj Maharjan, Deepak Bhusal, Rabin Shrestha, Bharat Khawas, Ranjit Shrestha, Amir Shrestha, Anil Ojha, Roshan Karki, Anil Tamang, Azad Pradhan, Prabin Karki, Chetan Ghimire, Rupak Shrestha, Swastik Washista, Santosh Maharjan, Bikram Lama, Pukar Ghatraj, and Anil Lataula.
Except Ajad Pradhan and Swastik Washista, the other players are the same who won the Subroto Mukerjee Cup in New Delhi last month becoming the first foreign team to win the trophy on Indian soil.
â€œThe AFC will sent only match officials, we have to manage the rest,â€ said Thapa. â€œWe have allotted necessary budget for the tournament under Youth Development Project,â€ added Thapa, who returned to Kathmandu recently after taking part in the FIFA meeting in Zurich.
â€œFIFA is holding the Goal Project meeting today and I hope to get the second phase of the project through this meeting,â€ he said, adding â€œIf we donâ€™t get it this time we are sure to get in February next year.â€ He also said that FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who felt â€˜very sorryâ€™ for postponing Nepalâ€™s visit during the AFC Presidentâ€™s Cup earlier this year, was positive on Nepalâ€™s proposal to build grounds in hilly regions. â€œHe has assured me of visiting Nepal in near future,â€ said Thapa.
â€œAFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam was positive about Nepalâ€™s interest to co-host the AFC Challenge Cup in April next year,â€ Thapa informed. The AFC executive committee meeting slated for November 28 and 29 will decide the hosts. ANFA vice president and spokesperson Lalit Krishna Shrestha also expressed his views on the occasion.