Nepal take on Bahrain today

KATHMANDU: After only the mathematical chances left for Nepal to qualify for the AFC Under 16 Championship finals, the hosts are taking on Bahrain in the Group B qualifiers here at the Dasharath Stadium on Sunday.

The Nepali team, hit by two back to back losses, will go for offense in their third match against the strong Bahrain team. “Although we are almost out of the competition we would still choose the offensive ways of playing as we did in the early matches,”said chief coach Dambar Gurung.

The hosts are yet to open their account in the qualifiers with only two games remaining while Tajikistan are nearing the finals securing seven points from three matches. The defending

champions Iran have four points with a win over Nepal and a draw against the Tajik team.

Iran are so far considered the strongest team in the group where they still have to play Lebanon and Bahrain. Bahrain, who have played two matches, and Lebanon, who have played three, have three points each. With the equation, Nepal are not only under pressure to win both the remaining matches but will also be looking forward for favourable results from other fixtures.

Nepal are hit by the injuries of striker Ram Thapa and midfielder Santosh Thapa who are doubtful to play against Bahrain.

However, Gurung said the players’ injuries will not make any difference in the team’s performance. “Despite losing consecutive matches, our boys are still positive and we will still play for a win,” said the team coach.

Gurung, who opted for second choice glovesman Shumsher Khatri against Iran, is considering to call back the regular keeper Laxman Thapa on Sunday. Khatri made too many blunders to hand Iran a 3-0 win on Friday.

“Thapa was keen on coming forward exposing the post too often against Lebanon. So we decided to replace him with Shumsher but after the match against Iran we are considering to recall Thapa,” added Gurung.