Nepal looking for better show against Brunei

Kathmandu, November 7

Nepal will be focusing on scoring and midfield when they take on Brunei in their second and final match of Group A in the AFC Solidarity Cup at the Sarawak Stadium in Kuching, Malaysia on Tuesday.

Nepal need a point against Brunei to book a place in the semi-finals after their frustrating goalless draw against Timor Leste on Saturday. The South Asian team can also advance to the next phase even if they face a 3-0 defeat against Brunei, who have already secured a place in the last four after their 4-0 win against Timor Leste in the opening match of the three-team group on Wednesday.

The Nepali camp is worried about the scoring ability of the forwards and the midfield that fluffed against Timor Leste. Coach Gyotoku Koji said the problems were because of lengthy breaks. “We have not played for a long time and the players are also yet to set in the team. The more they play, the sooner they get set as a team,” said the Japanese coach. “And the problem we have seen in scoring and midfield will be eliminated gradually,” he added. Koji had blamed the forwards and midfielders after the team played a tame draw against Timor Leste.

Koji said the team’s performance against Brunei would depend on the ground condition as the stadium is expected to be soggy. “We should be ready to play in any condition and any pitch so that we can improve our level,” he added. Koji also expressed concerns over not getting enough time to recover for the encounter against Brunei. “Our opponents have advantage of having a rest of five days, while we got just two days. So we only got time to refresh.”

Brunei are expected to adopt a safer approach against Nepal as most of the squad members are struggling to recover from injuries they sustained against Timor Leste. “We will try to prepare fully as much as possible. Our several player sustained ankle injuries and we also want a recovery time for them. As we are already in the semi-finals, we do not want to take risk of using those players,” said Brunei head coach Kwon Oh-son.

The South Korean national Oh-son termed Nepal as one of the title contenders and said that he would try to avoid upsets while facing Nepal. “Nepal is strong team and is one of the title contenders no matter what. So we look to avoid upset like what happened in the other group’s match between Macau and Laos,” Oh-son added.

Meanwhile, the AFC Disciplinary Committee provisionally suspended four Laos players for two months for their suspected involvement in match manipulation. The committee banned Laos skipper Phatthana Syvilay, goalkeeper Chintana Souksavath and defenders Saynakhonevieng Phommapanya and Moukda Souksavath who are suspected of getting involved in manipulation of multiple matches since 2010 including in the ongoing Solidarity Cup.

“The provisional suspensions relate not only to the AFC Solidarity Cup but also to suspected manipulation of multiple matches committed by the representative teams of Laos since 2010. The investigation (which is in conjunction with the FIFA Integrity Unit and Sportradar) is ongoing and not limited to those players provisionally suspended,” as per the statement of the Asian Football Confederation. The four players featured in the starting eleven against Sri Lanka in their Group B opener of the Solidarity Cup.