Tricky situation awaits Nepal for Bangladesh fixtureThe hosts must win, draw or lose by a single goal margin to advance into the final.
Hosts Nepal face a tricky situation when they lock horns against the South Asian rivals Bangladesh in the last group stage match of the Three Nations Cup football tournament at the Dasharath Stadium on Saturday which will decide the second finalist side.
While Bangladesh have already made it to the final after 1-0 victory over Kyrgyzstan U-23 in the first match played on Tuesday, Nepal or the central Asian country will book place for the title decider depending on the outcome of the Nepal-Bangladesh encounter. Both Nepal and Kyrgyzstan have one point each after playing 0-0 draw on Thursday.
Nepal could progress to the final if they beat or play a draw against the South Asian team. They could also progress to the next round even if they lose by a single goal margin. In such a situation both Nepal and Kyrgyz youth team will have equal one point each in the standings and also minus one goal each. And Nepal could progress on the basis of negative cards conceded by Kyrgyzstan as they were shown three yellows against the hosts including two to their captain Tashiev Kamolidin. Unlike them, Nepal did not see a single yellow.
Despite having a slight advantage over the central Asian opponent, team Nepal is adamant to earn points against the well known foes. “We are not thinking about defeat at this point and we will play at least to secure a point [draw] or win,” said Maharjan who saw his side squander more than a dozen scoring opportunities against the youth team.
Maharjan said his side lacked the cutting edge in the attacking zone against Kyrgyzstan and they would try to improve on the aspect while playing Bangladesh. “We have been unable to deliver at the finishing line for a long time and we must improve on it. But improvement is not possible overnight. I have pointed out the weaknesses during our team meeting,” said Maharjan.
“I can only decide on the match day if there will be changes in the striking line-up or not,” added Maharjan, who had paired Anjan Bista with Avishek Rijal in the attacking department. He started with Tridev Gurung and Sanjog Rai in midfield along with Rabi Paswan and Tej Tamang.
Star player Rohit Chand will spearhead the defence line-up along with Ananta Tamang, Dinesh Rajbanshi and Ranjeet Dhimal. Captain Kiran Limbu will take charge of the post.
Regarding Bangladesh, Maharjan said: “They are a strong side with well balanced players in defence, midfield and attacking line-ups. I expect the match to be an evenly contested affair. We will play total football against them.”
Unlike Nepal, Bangladesh are expected to come pressure-free into the game, as they have already made it to the final. Bangladesh’s British coach James Day, who fielded three new players against the Kyrgyz team, is likely to try more rookie players. “We are taking the tournament as preparation for the World Cup qualifier matches in June,” the Briton said at a pre-event conference.
“If we are assured of a final before Nepal-Bangladesh fixture, I will definitely go for new players to see if they are good enough for Qualifiers,” Day said.
However, the match will have an impact on FIFA rankings. While Nepal currently are 171st in FIFA rankings, Bangladesh are 186th.
Looking at past records, the two sides have played 21 matches. While Bangladesh have won 13 matches, Nepal have won six and two matches have finished in draws. In the last five encounters, Nepal and Bangladesh have won two each and the fifth match had ended in a draw.
Apart from Nepal and Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan are also concerned about the outcome. “I hope the last game between Nepal and Bangladesh will be competitive and fair,” Kyrgyz coach Zholdoshov Nurbek had said after the draw against Nepal.