Nepal to be tested today

KATHMANDU: After their morale boosting win against Kyrgyzstan in the second match, Nepal take on Tajikistan at the AFC Under-19 Championship Group A qualifiers here at the Dasharath Stadium on Thursday.

With three points from two games, Nepal will be looking to grab three more points against Tajikistan to keep their qualifying hopes alive. However, it would be a tough ask for the home side considering Tajikistan's performance in the qualifiers so far. The Tajiks have posed themselves as one of the tough teams after their comprehensive 4-0 win over Kyrgyzstan and a 3-0 rout over Palestine.

Nepal played a magnificent football in their win against Kyrgyzstan on Monday and will look to carry the momentum against the Tajiks. "We shifted into the defensive mode after the first goal against Kyrgyzstan but still they managed to score. "Tajiks offensive play will not deter us from playing attacking game. We will not adopt defensive strategy,"said the Nepali team coach Raju Shakya.

Nepal looked set to start with the same composition against Tajikistan that gave Nepal their first victory despite Dipak Bhushal, Nirajan Malla and Rohit Chand picking up minor injuries during the Monday's match. However, Shakya indicated that there would be no major changes in the team.

"Some of our important players have picked up injuries on Monday. We could possibly change a player but we will decide that only before the kick off ," said coach Shakya. Shakya also said that the preparation of the Nepali team would hardly match their opponents as they (Tajikistan) have long been preparing for the qualifiers. However, Shakya was confident that his boys can put up a good fight against them.

"We are minnows against Tajikistan if we look at the preparation time of both teams. They were preparing for the event since last two years but our boys were in the training camp only for the last three months. Nevertheless, the win on Monday has generated huge confidence in our players which is a positive sign for us," added Shakya.

Nepal will be aware not to expose their defence while going for attack against the Tajiks. "I know there would be a constant attacks from Tajikistan and we will have to cash in on such opportunities where we can score in a counter attack. We can get on the top if we score first," said the coach.

Today's matches

• Palestine vs Yemen @ 1200 — Dasharath Stadium

• Tajikistan vs Nepal @ 1430 — Dasharath Stadium

• Kyrgyzstan vs Jordan @ 1400 — APF Stadium