Under-pressure Nepal hope for the best against Iran

KATHMANDU: Nepal will be hoping for the best when they clash against defending champions Iran in their second match of the AFC Under-16 championship Group B qualifiers here at the Dashrath Stadium on Thursday.

After losing the first match against Lebanon 1-0 on Monday, Nepal are under pressure against one of the strongest teams in the tournament. “With the pressure to win all the remaining three matches, we are in a do-or-die situation where we have no option than to hope for the best and wait for the final whistle,” said chief coach Dambar Gurung.

The Nepali coach also hinted at making minor changes in the team strategy and the playing set from the first match. “We won’t be playing much through air as it will make the tall Iranian players easy to get hold of the ball,” said Gurung, who was criticised of letting the team play air ball against Lebanon despite not having the height advantage.

But Gurung said he would instruct his players for the offensive game against Iran. “We can’t choose the Tajikistan ways of defensive game against Iran,” added Gurung. The coach was hopeful that the midfielders would not repeat the mistakes of not penetrating into the opponents area before passing to the teammates.

“Our midfielders made the mistake of passing the ball to the teammates as soon as it came to their feet in the first match against Lebanon. But I have instructed them to penetrate and then supply to the frontline when we will play against Iran,” Gurung told The Himalayan Times.

With a 4-4-2 strategy, Nepal will make a change in the midfield where Sameer Limbu will be replacing Hem Tamang. Limbu was among the substitutes in the first match and created a wave in the midfield which created a couple of chances. He was also instrumental in setting the game well in the second half. “Apart from the midfield, we are also thinking of replacing goalkeeper Laxman Thapa but we will take the final decision on Thursday morning,” said assistant coach Sunil Kumar Shrestha.

The Irani coach Mohammadi Akbar has said that he was not going to take Nepal easy after they were held to a goalless draw by Tajikistan. “We are here to win all the matches and we won’t be taking any of the opponents easy,” said Akabar.