Nepal eying full points against Kyrgyzstan youth teamThe hosts axe team regulars, including Nawayug Shrestha and George Prince Karki from the final squad as they start the Three Nations Cup journey today.
As Nepal embark on their journey of the Three Nations Cup with a match against Kyrgyzstan U-23 team on Thursday, national team head coach Bal Gopal Maharjan said that his side will play with a singular objective of taking points.
"We should not lose points while playing against Kyrgyzstan. Our effort will be to grab the full three points and if not, we must secure at least one point," said Maharjan.
Kyrgyzstan, who lost the kick-off match 1-0 against Bangladesh on Tuesday, must beat Nepal or play a draw to keep their hopes alive for the final. The top two teams in the round-robin league will play the title decider on Monday.
Maharjan noted that the Central Asian youth side were in a do-or-die situation and they will try to come up with their best performance.
"Though they could not play to our expectations in the opening match against Bangladesh, we will not take them lightly. Maybe it was their first match and they could not adjust properly. But if we play to our potential, we could get the results in our favour," said Maharjan.
Maharjan has announced a 23-member final squad for the tournament, with goalie Deep Karki, defenders Nishan Khadka and Chhiring Gurung and midfielders Tridev Gurung and Sanjog Rai making it in the national team for the first time.
Former captain Biraj Maharjan has also been included in the team for what is to be his final match in the national jersey. The veteran defender, who is returning to the national outfit after almost a year, will announce his retirement after the tournament.
Injured defender Ananta Tamang has returned to the team but whether he will get the playing time is still uncertain.
Star midfielder cum defender Rohit Chand is expected to spearhead the defence line with Ranjit Dhimal and Dinesh Rajbanshi supporting him. Anjan Bista is likely to pair up with Bharat Khawas in the attacking department.
Some of the first-team regulars have been left out from the squad. Those players include forwards Nawayug Shrestha and George Prince Karki and Ashish Lama; midfielders Santosh Tamang and Hemanta Thapa; defenders Palsang Lama, Suraj BK and Bikash Khawas; and goalkeepers Bishal Shrestha and Bishal Sunar.
Defending his decision to axe star forward Nawayug Shrestha, coach Maharjan said: "The selection was made after judgment of their performance of last three months training. The new players were selected keeping in view of the upcoming matches of the World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifiers against Jordan, Chinese Taipei and Australia."
"This is just a friendly event and the new players named in the squad are technically and tactically sound as well as hard working," added Maharjan, who expects playing at the home turf will offer the team advantage over the rivals.
As Kyrgyzstan could make an early exit with a defeat and Bangladesh being in a comparatively comfortable situation after a win in the first match, Mahrajan said his side were also in pressure.
"There is pressure in every match. Right now we should focus on the next match rather than Bangladesh," said Maharjan.
It will be the first occasion that the full strength national side will be playing at the Dasharath Stadium after more than six years as it was being restored after the 2015 earthquake.
National captain Kiran Kumar Limbu said that his side was excited to play at the Dasharath Stadium after a long time and with spectators at the stands. Speaking about the new makeup of the team, he said, "It was really tough for the coach because it is a challenging job to finalise the squad. The team is balanced and best among the best have made the cut."
Kyrgyzstan coach Zholdoshov Nurbek said his side would come up with improved performance against Nepal after facing defeat against Bangladesh.
"The players failed to believe in their capability in the first half against Bangladesh but they played better in the second half. We will try to give our best against Nepal and get results in our favour," he said.
Goalkeeper: Kiran Kumar Limbu (Captain), Bikesh Kuthu, Deep Karki
Defender: Ranjit Dhimal, Nishan Khadka, Rohit Chand, Ananta Tamang, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Ajit Bhandari, Biraj Maharjan, Tshring Gurung
Midfielder: Tridev Gurung, Sujal Shrestha, Tej Tamang, Arik Bista, Sanjog Rai, Bishal Rai, Sunil Bal, Rabi Shankar Paswan
Forward: Anjan Bista, Darshan Gurung, Abhishek Rijal, Bharat Khawas