Squad announced for joint qualifiersCoach Almuitari has named a 23-member squad excluding the in-form defender Ranjit Dhimal among others for the remaining three matches of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers, along with Iraq friendly.
National football coach Abudullah Almuitari on Tuesday announced a final 23-member squad for Nepal’s friendly against Iraq and AFC Asian Cup and FIFA World Cup Joint Qualifiers matches excluding defender Ranjit Dhimal, one of the in-form national team players.
Dhimal, considered one of the best central defenders of the national football team, was the captain of Biratnagar City FC in the recently concluded Nepal Super League. He had scored a goal against champions Kathmandu Rayzrs in the league rounds.
Apart from Dhimal, the Kuwaiti coach also left out forwards Bharat Khawas and Darshan Gurung, winger Rabi Shankar Paswan and defender Nishan Khadka from the list of 32 players called in the preliminary squad.
Surprisingly, he has included defender Ananta Tamang in the squad, who did not feature in the Nepal Super League and has not played a single match after the Three Nations Cup that concluded on March 29.
Six players including midfielders Kamal Thapa, Suraj Jeu Thakuri, Aysuh Ghalan, Manish Dangi, defender Gautam Shrestha and goalkeeper Bishal Sunar have been included in the national squad for the first time.
Midfielders Bivek Basnet, Nitin Thapa, Sesehang Angdembe and defender Amit Tamang were the other players to be axed from the list of final 32 players called in the preliminary phase.
The national team named on Tuesday leaves out a total of 13 players who were included in the Three Nations Cup. Nepal defeated Bangladesh 2-1 in the final to clinch the title.
Bikesh Kuthu, the captain and goalkeeper of Kathmandu, defenders Nishan Khadka, Ajit Bhandari, Tshiring Gurung and Biraj Maharjan [who retired from international football], midfielders Tridev Gurung, Sujal Shrestha and Sanjok Rai were the other names missing from the Three Nations squad.
Nepal are set to play a friendly match against Iraq at the Basra International Stadium on May 29 before playing their last three matches of the joint qualifiers from June 3 to 11 in Kuwait.
Nepal will play their Group ‘B’ joint qualifier match against Chinese Taipei on June 3, Jordan on June 7 and Australia on June 11. Nepal are second from bottom in the five-team group after playing as many matches. They have three points, winning one and losing four games. Australia lead the standings with 12 points and Chinese Taipei are at the bottom without a win.
Nepal lost 7-0 to Kuwait in their away match and 1-0 in a home fixture played at a neutral venue in Bhutan due to the unavailability of a stadium that met the international standard. They defeated Chinese Taipei 2-0, lost 5-0 against Australia and 3-0 against Jordan in away matches.
Nepal were set to host the remaining three matches but they were postponed to centralised venue in Kuwait due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Goalkeepers: Kiran Kumar Limbu, Deep Karki, Bishal Sunar
Defenders: Ananta Tamang, Gautam Shrestha, Suman Aryal, Rohit Chand, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Bikash Khawas
Midfielders: Bishal Rai, Sunil Bal, Pujan Uparkoti, Arik Bista, Suman Lama, Manish Dangi, Santosh Tamang, Ayush Ghalan, Suraj Jeu Thakuri, Kamal Thapa,
Forwards: Abhishek Rijal, Aashish Lama, Anjan Bista, Nawayug Shrestha