Mauritius friendlies will prepare Nepal for Asian Cup qualifiers, coach Shrestha saysNepal have announced two separate squads for the two-match international friendlies on Saturday and Tuesday.
Nepal national football team coach Kiran Shrestha has said that preparing the team for third round AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers was the main motive of the two-match international friendlies against Mauritius set to take place on Saturday and Tuesday at Tripureshwar.
Shrestha, who is a deputy to head coach Abdullah Almutairi, said that they would utilise the friendlies to provide match exposure and educate the players. Nepal have announced two separate squads for the matches including 12 common players in both the teams. The head coach skipped the pre-match press conference.
"We are ready for the first game and we will correct the mistakes we made in our previous matches," said Shrestha, who however did not say what were the mistakes. He also said Almutairi did not attend the press conference due to fatigue.
"We are also preparing for the Asia Cup Qualifiers (third round) so we are trying to give international exposure to the maximum number of players," said Shrestha, adding that the African opponents were of similar strength as Nepal.
Nepal are ranked 169th in the FIFA rankings and Mauritius are placed three spots behind, at 172nd. "They are physically stronger than us but the level is similar, making judgments on the basis of rankings," said Shrestha.
Nepal's custodian Kiran Limbu who joined the national team camp on Wednesday after returning from the Maldives where he plays in the Dhivehi Premier League, the top tier league of the Maldives, said that his teammates were mentally and physically ready for the friendlies.
"We need to expect good (winning) results and take the matches as an opportunity to learn. The team would also be responsible for both win or loss," said Limbu.
Meanwhile, the Mauritius team who have not played a competitive game for more than a year and a half owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, have prepared for 45 days. "We have trained for 45 days and we will try to bring our best against Nepal," said coach Tony Francois, whose four players tested positive for Covid upon their arrival in Nepal and are currently in isolation. "The four will join the team in the next match and they are all vital players in the squad."
Francois said the matches were important to prepare the team for the upcoming home and away fixtures of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) Qualifiers in March. "We are here to play the friendlies and we have included some new faces in the squad, it will provide a much needed match experience for them," said Francois, adding that Nepal were a good and fast paced team and he has seen them play against the Maldives.
Mauritius captain Kevin Bru echoing the coach, said, "Nepal are a good team and we are ready to play against them."
Meanwhile, ANFA has decided to allow spectators in one third capacity of the Dasharath Stadium due to the pandemic with strict adherence to the government’s health protocols.
Tickets have been priced at Rs500 for the ordinary parapet and Rs1,000 for the VIP parapet. ANFA has also made vaccination cards mandatory for spectators to enter the stadium.
Both the matches will kick off at 16:45 NST. The games will be telecast live on Kantipur Television.