Meghraj KC: When we have the ball at defensive zone we need to push forward'We must have the courage to take our chances.'
Meghraj KC, the current head coach of the Three Star Club is also the head coach of the national Under-19 team. He served as an assistant to Briton Graham Roberts, the former head coach of Nepal who led the team in 2011 for the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers against Jordan. Nepal had lost the away match 9-0 against Jordan in Amman before playing a 1-1 draw at the reverse fixture at home in Dashrath Stadium. The Post's Prajwal Oli spoke with KC on Sunday, two days before Nepal play against Jordan for their away match of the joint qualifiers of FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup. Here are the excerpts.
How do you remember the Nepal-Jordan matches of the World Cup Qualifiers in 2011?
The level of Jordan team was much higher than ours. Before we could have thought of anything they showered us with goals in the away fixture and they were 4-0 up by 24 minutes. We eventually lost the match 9-0. They totally dominated the game and we were speechless at the end. The home match finished in a 1-1 tie. It is not that we were a changed side in the home match played just after five days, but various factors came into effect in the draw including the incessant rain throughout the day and the overwhelming support of the home spectators. They failed to play their natural game in the waterlogged pitch and luck also favoured us in the comeback draw.
What are your expectations when Nepal play Jordan in Amman on Tuesday?
Nepal have become a much-improved side than in the past when it comes to playing against superior opponents. Jordan are of course a much better side than us. We should take a cautious strategy and it is better to play with the tactics of stopping them rather than going for a win. We must know our ground reality but we need not fear to take our chance. It may backfire if we play too aggressive football.
Did Nepal maintain their standard while playing their last three matches of the joint Qualifiers?
In fact, we were fortunate to get the chance of playing the second round of the Qualifiers. We must judge ourselves if we really meet the standards to play the second round. Our players have been giving their best against the much higher level opponents. We must be happy and satisfied with the performance of our players.
Where do you see are the areas for improvement for team Nepal?
There are many aspects where Nepali players need to improve. As we are playing against the tough opponents, we are concentrated only on stopping them. When we have the ball at defensive zone we need to think of pushing forward and take advantage of the transition period. The players need to have an attacking mentality even when they are playing a defensive game and also make a defensive approach when they are in attack. Though we make be weak, we also get at least one or two attacking opportunities throughout the match and if we grab them the outcome could be unexpected despite having a defensive approach. The main thing is that we should have a strong mentality despite playing with an offensive or a defensive approach.
How tough is to play an away match against Jordan?
It is really tough to play the away fixture against Jordan. After facing 5-0 defeat against a mighty opponent like Australia, the team must not be too much disappointed. However, a defeat is a defeat and we must be more cautious in our upcoming fixtures. Nepali team might again come up with the approach of stopping (playing for a draw) against Jordan. That could be a wrong approach and we must have the courage to take our chances.
What is your message to the national team?
We need not forget how we got a chance to play in the second round and take the matches of the tournament as an opportunity to learn. Playing against tough opponents help you become stronger in future. I want them to enjoy their game, gain experience and learn from the opponents.