Captain Preeti Rai laments on lack of practice matchesNepal Under-15 Women’s team set to make amends following last year’s disastrous show at SAFF Championship.
Nepal national U-15 team skipper Preeti Rai complained that lack of match experience against quality opponents have been the major shortcomings during their preparations for the SAFF Under-15 Women’s Championship set to be held from October 9 to 15 in Bhutan.
“We lack experience and as we have not played matches against better opponents, it has not helped us in understanding our level, identifying the room for improvement and enhancing the quality where required,” said Rai during the farewell program of the team which is set to leave for Bhutan on Monday. The captain also called for more friendly matches against foreign teams of the age-group and was optimistic about the input from the coaching staff regarding the style of play of the opponent teams helping formulate better strategies.
She, however, expressed satisfaction on the team’s preparation. “We have prepared well in comparison to last year. As our team includes most players from the previous edition, it has helped us better understand each other’s game,” she said. A 31-member delegation including 23 players of Nepal Under-15 Women’s National Team is set to leave for Paro to compete in the four-nation tournament to be played in a round-robin format with the top two teams playing the final.
In what has been Nepal’s best performance in the tournament’s history, the team had finished fourth in the previous edition. “Our aim is to win the tournament as we are counting on our midfield which is well synchronized when it comes to supporting the defensive line and creating goal-scoring opportunities for the forwards,” said skipper Rai.
Speaking about the training sessions, head coach Rakesh Shrestha said: “Despite all the players being students, I am satisfied with the dedication and effort put in by them. I think the team is well balanced with experienced and new players. I am enthused with their optimism and the effort they have put in the training and practice matches.”
“Our team is well organized, and many players are skillfully sound. The presence of Preeti Rai, who has recently been called up by the senior squad is of great advantage. We definitely can not underestimate the opponents as India, Bangladesh and Bhutan are strong sides. Our first objective is to make it to the tournament final,” added Shrestha. Based on what he has seen from the players in the squad, Shrestha went on to claim that he could see a few players from this age-group making it to the senior women’s squad for Nepal. He also called on the parents and guardians to motivate and support their daughters to play football.
Meanwhile, All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) President Karma Tshering Sherpa acknowledged the progress being made by Nepali senior women’s football team and urged the age-group side to follow their footsteps. Sherpa said, “Lucky are those who get opportunities to play for the nation by representing the entire country at international tournaments. As the team is leaving during the time of festivities, any success you achieve will be the reason for celebrations across the nation.” Sherpa also spoke of ANFA’s initiatives to arrange foreign scholarships for deserving Under-15 players.