Nepal, Taiwan set sights on first pointsBoth teams are coming into the second game having lost their first match on September 5.
Nepal take on hosts Taiwan in the Group 'B' match of the joint FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers at the Taipei Municipal Stadium in Taipei on Monday.
Both the teams lost their opening matches played on September 5 in contrasting fashion. While Nepal suffered a humiliating 7-0 defeat in their away match against Kuwait, Taiwan went down fighting 2-1 to Jordan in the five-team group that also consists of Asian powerhouse Australia. Taiwan are ranked 125th position in FIFA rankings, 41 places ahead of Nepal. In their only previous meeting—an international friendly on June 6—Nepal and Taiwan played 1-1 draw.
Nepal conceded almost all the goals against Kuwait largely due to defensive errors. Nepal look to correct that mistake against Taiwan. "For some reasons, we failed against Kuwait and we need to be back on track," Nepal's Swedish coach Johan Kalin said on the eve of the match. "We conceded all seven goals due to our own mistakes. We now look to bounce back and play our own game," said the Swede. "It was a poor performance but we can fix it. Hopefully, we can find a solution."
Kalin was not ready to buy that Taiwan were a weaker team in the group. "Taiwan are ranked higher and it would be wrong to call them a weak team. In fact, they are strong and super tough. They are somewhat at the same level as Kuwait. Their recent win over Hong Kong is a testament to that fact. But we have a plan against them and it is to play our natural game," he said, adding that they have a real chance of earning point provided they put in a good showing.
Nepal skipper Kiran Chemjong said the demoralising defeat against Kuwait had put his side under a tremendous pressure to win in their second match. "We had never expected that we would lose by such a huge margin," said Chemjong, who was part of the Nepali team that a goalless against Kuwait on 21 March before losing 1-0 four days later to the same opponents in a two-match international friendly series.
"We have analysed our mistakes from the last match and the whole team is committed not to repeat them on Tuesday," said Chemjong adding that Taiwan were a tough team to deal with but were ready face them.
Like Nepal, Taiwan will also be desperate to register first win at their own backyard. Making judgments on the basis of the outcome of first match and FIFA rankings alone, Nepal would be the weakest opponents of all. "This is a must-win game and we are not going to hold back," Taiwan's coach Loius Lancaster said during a pre-match press conference on Monday. "We look forward to taking our chances and would like to play on top of our games," he said. "I want my players to express themselves and leave the field with no regrets. If we fail repeatedly, the pressure will keep building on us."
The Qualifiers is being played on home and away format. Altogether 40 teams of Asia are divided into eight groups of five teams each. The eight group winners and four best runners-up will secure places to the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Finals in China as well as the final round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The remaining 24, except for the four bottom-placed teams who fail to pass the joint Qualifiers hurdle will have another shot at earning tickets to the AFC Asian Cup. The 24 teams will fight it out for another 12 berths for the Asian Cup.