Nepal Under-16 team all set for big show

KATHMANDU: After almost two months of preparations, Nepal are ready to face Lebanon in their opening match of the AFC U-16 Championships Group ‘B’ qualifiers beginning here on Monday.

The chief coach of Nepali U-16 team, Dambar Gurung said Nepal would eye to qualify for the finals as the group winners. “We had a good preparation in our camp where we especially focused on the physical fitness of the players and stamina. We are looking ahead for good performance by these players in the tournament,” said Gurung at a press meet here today.

Nepal are so far looking strong in the midfield with some loopholes in the team’s conversion rate. However, the team coach expressed contentment in the overall configuration of the team. “Our players are mixing it up well in the midfield but there are some areas where they miss to cash in on the scoring opportunities. This is the place where we would be keeping our eyes wide open,” added Gurung.

After the injury of the reliable striker Roshan Rai, the hosts are certain to be one player short in the 23-member squad. “The doctors ruled him out of action for five weeks following his leg injury some 10 days earlier and I am considering to bring in Shumsher Chhetri in Roshan’s place as the glovesman is an allrounder and can play in any position,” said the coach.

Gurung said playing against Iran would be tough since they are the strongest of the six teams in the group. But, the assistant coach of the team Sunil Kumar Shrestha believed that in the age group football the result could go either side. Nepal have twice played with the Iranian team in the U-14 Festival of Football in Iran in May this year where they lost the first match 1-0 and drew another 1-1.

According to the coach, Amar Dangol and Ram Thapa are likely to play upfront in the first eleven along with Sulabh Maskey, Laxman Basnet, Santosh Thapa and Hem Tamang

in midfield. Kushal Shrestha, Man Bahadur Tamang, Manoj Bista and Ganesh Thapa will look after the defence line, while Laxman Thapa is the regular goalkeeper.

Meanwhile, the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) informed on Friday that the preparations for the championship were complete. According to the ANFA, the match venues — Dashrath Stadium in Tripureshwor and Armed Police Force (APF) grounds in Halchowk — have been brought in the perfect conditions.

The ANFA, who were worried regarding the expected budget of nine million rupees for the championships, said they have been getting positive response from all the sectors they have sought help from. Xavier International College will be providing the team buses for the tournament. The organisers have also expected to raise Rs 500,000 from the ticket sale.

NEPAL Under-16 SQUAD: Goalkeepers — Laxman Thapa, Ashok Baral, Purna Bahadur Kumal, Shumsher Chhetri.

Defenders — Kalu Thapa, Kushal Shrestha, Manoj Bista, Man Bahadur Tamang, Ganesh Thapa, Ujen Tamang, Suman Shrestha, Subhash Giri, Jango Sherpa. Midfielders — Sulabh Maskey (captain), Laxman Mahat, Santosh Thapa, Hem Thapa, Chule Gurung. Strikers — Amar Dangol, Ram Thapa,

Abhinav Joshi, Phurba Sherpa.

Maldives’ participation doubtful

KATHMANDU: The participation of Maldives in the AFC U-16 championships Group B qualifiers remained uncertain as they have not given any rigid response to the organisers with just two days remaining. “When we contacted the officials of Maldives FA a couple of days earlier, we were told that a 23-member team — 18 players and five officials — would be arriving in Nepal on time,” said ANFA vice-president and spokesperson Lalit Krishna Shrestha.

“We can’t say anything on this matter at the moment as they have not send their arrival schedules yet,” he added. “But we are hoping them to come and play in the tournament,,” said Shrestha. The Bahrain U-16 team arrived in Kathmandu on September 25 while the Irani team landed on Friday. Lebanon and Tajikistan are scheduled to arrive on October 4.

The match commissioners, referee assessors, medical officers and the referees have already arrived in Nepal, said the vice-president at a press meet today. — HNS

AFC U-16 Championships schedules

Date Match Venue Time

Oct 5 Iran Vs Maldives Dashrath Stadium 12:00

Bahrain Vs Tajikistan Halchowk Staidum 14:00

Lebanon Vs Nepal Dashrath Stadium 14:30

Oct 7 Bahrain Vs Lebanon Dashrath Stadium 12:00

Nepal Vs Maldives Dashrath Stadium 14:30

Tajikistan Vs Iran Halchowk Stadium 14:00

Oct 10 Tajikistan Vs Lebanon Dashrath Stadium 12:00

Iran Vs Nepal Dashrath Stadium 14:30

Maldives Vs Bahrain Halchowk Stadium 14:00

Oct 12 Nepal Vs Bahrain Dashrath Stadium 14:30

Maldives Vs Tajikistan Dashrath Stadium 12:00

Lebanon Vs Iran Halchowk Stadium 14:00

Oct 15 Iran Vs Bahrain Dashrath Stadium 12:00

Maldives Vs Lebanon Halchowk Stadium 14:00

Tajikistan Vs Nepal Dashrath Stadium 14:30