Lalitpur, September 4
Nepal national football team head coach Gyotoku Koji said his side would go for a win when they face Tajikistan in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers match here at the ANFA Complex grounds on Tuesday.
Nepal, who are in Group F along with Tajikistan, Philippines and Yemen, are playing their second home match of the Qualifiers. Nepal played a goalless draw against Yemen in June after facing a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Philippines in their away match in March.
Koji said his team was in good shape compared to the previous matches and that the players would got for a win. “Our main target is to earn all three points,” said Koji at the pre-match press conference. “If not we will snatch at least one point from Tajikistan,” said Koji. He also added that every member of the team was equally capable of getting chances against the visitors.
Coach Koji said his team’s approach would depend upon the situation of the match. “We have watched Tajikistan’s matches but we cannot say they will adopt the same strategy against us. So, we will decide our strategy as per the demand of the match,” added Koji. He said that his players learnt a lot of things during their Japan tour last month. “The things these players learnt in Japan will bear fruits in future and it might not reflect in tomorrow’s match,” Koji said.
In the current FIFA ranking, Tajikistan are in the 151st position, 18 spots above Nepal (169th position). However, Nepali skipper Biraj Maharjan said his side would produce victory against the visitors in front of home crowd. “Although, Tajikistan are ahead of us in FIFA ranking, we have been doing good of late and will go for a win,” he said.
Maharajan said the match was crucial for Nepal. “We need to win this match to keep our hopes alive,” he added. Top two sides each from all six pools will join already-qualified 12 teams in the finals of the AFC Asian Cup to be hosted by the United Arab Emirates in 2019. Currently, Philippines are leading the group with six points, while Yemen are second with four. Nepal are third with one.
Tajikistan are yet to open their accounts but their coach Fuzaylov Khakim said his target was to qualify for the finals. In their previous two matches, Tajikistan faced a 2-1 defeat against Yemen and lost 4-3 against Philippines. “Since we have lost both matches, the game against Nepal is important to keep our hopes alive,” said Khakim. “The pressure will be on the home side as we are here to do our job done. We will play freely against the home team.” Coach Khakim hoped for an interesting as well as a tough match.
Tajikistan skipper Fatkhulloev Fatkhullo said his side came to Nepal with only victory in mind. “All the players understand the situation after losing previous matches. So we will give our best and try to beat Nepal,” said Fatkhullo.