KATHMANDU: A 35-member Nepali football team on Tuesday left for Iraq on a chartered flight to play a friendly match. Nepal will take on Iraq on May 29 ahead of their World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers. After the friendly match, the Nepali team will travel to Kuwait to play the three second round games of the World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers.
The matches were shifted to the neutralised venue in Kuwait City because of travel restrictions in various countries due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Nepal will face Chinese Taipei on June 3 before playing against Jordan four days later. Nepal will finish the campaign with a match against Australia on June 11. Nepal, who lost four matches and won one in the first round, are at the fourth position with three points from five games, while Australia are at the top with 12 points from four matches. Kuwait and Jordan have 10 points each, whereas Chinese Taipei are yet to open their accounts. Head coach Abdullah Almuitari has picked up a new-look squad for the friendly and qualifiers. The team includes 23 players in Kiran Kumar Limbu, Deep Karki, Bishal Sunar, Ananta Tamang, Gautam Shrestha, Suman Aryal, Abhishek Rijal, Bishal Rai, Sunil Bal, Aashish Lama, Pujan Uparkoti, Arik Bista, Suman Lama, Anjan Bista, Manish Dangi, Santosh Tamang, Nawayug Shrestha, Ayush Ghalan, Suraj Jeu Thakuri, Kamal Thapa, Rohit Chand, Dinesh Rajbanshi and Bikash Khawas.
Apart from head coach Almuitari and his assistants Kiran Shrestha and Bikash Malla, team manager Madhu Sudan Upadhyay, the National Sports Council Member Secretary Ramesh Kumar Silwal and seven other officials accompanied the players to Iraq.
A version of this article appears in the print on May 26, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.