KATHMANDU, JUNE 6
With eyes firmly set in the berth into the third round qualifiers of the Asian Cup, Nepal national football team will take on Jordan in the World Cup Qualifiers at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City on Monday.
A win against Jordan will boost Nepal's chances of making it to the third round qualifiers of the Asian Cup directly as the team is technically out of the race from the World Cup qualifying.
Nepal's home matches of the joint qualifiers of the FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup were shifted to Kuwait due to travel restrictions caused by coronavirus pandemic and the team recorded a 2-0 victory over Chinese Taipei in their first game four days ago.
Nepal are currently at the fourth position in the fiveteam Group B with six points from as many matches and they will end the campaign with a match against mighty Australia on June 11. Australia are at the top with 15 points, while Kuwait and Jordan have 10 each. Chinese Taipei are yet to open their accounts.
Nepal have played three matches against Jordan in the past and they have lost two and played a draw. In their first meeting, Nepal faced a 9-0 defeat in Amman in the World Cup Qualifying match on July 23, 2011. But Nepal stunned the world football when they held Jordan to a 1-1 draw five days later at the Dasharath Stadium in the return leg match, thanks to the equaliser from Bharat Khawas.
Nepal faced a 3-0 loss in the first round match of the ongoing qualifiers in Amman in September 2019 and the two sides will be meeting again after a gap of 21 months. Despite playing against a side, who are 76 places up than Nepal at the 95th position in FIFA rankings, head coach Abdullah Almutairi said his side would go for a win. "We have been termed us underdogs holding no chance against Jordan," said Almutairi said in virtual prematch press conference.
"But every match starts at a goalless draw and the result depends on the performance of the players in the pitch. Our aim from the start is going to win the game," added Almutairi, who took over the Nepal national team in the first week of April.
Almutairi said the main target of the team would be to qualify for the Asian Cup Qualifiers. "Our goal is to qualify for Asian Cup Qualifiers and we need to win against Jordan for that.
We have prepared for Jordan as much as we did for the Chinese Taipei game," he added.
Jordan head coach Vital Borkelmans said: "Everybody expects us to take three points but this is football and anything is possible.
I saw Nepal playing against Chinese Taipei and Iraq and their quality and playing system has changed," Borkelmans said.
The 40 teams in the second round have been divided into eight pools and the group winners along with four best runners-up will make it to the third round of FIFA World Cup qualification as well as qualify for the AFC Asian Cup.
According to the format, the next 16 highest ranked teams - remaining four group runners-up, eight third-placed teams and the four best fourth-placed teams - will directly advance to the third round of Asian Cup qualification.
The remaining 12 teams will enter the play-off round to contest the remaining eight spots.
A version of this article appears in the print on June 7, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.