Nepal face Bangladesh test todayThe national side are back in single piece again after four months but caretaker coach Humagain will face a real test in his first game in charge against a side Nepal have remained unbeaten in the last four matches.
Nepal will look to restore pride in the national team when they host Bangladesh in an international friendly football match at the Dasharath Stadium on Tuesday.
Nepal are still licking the wounds of a coach-players fiasco that plunged the national team into a deep crisis in May and also jeopardised their third and final round of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualification campaign in Kuwait.
Former head coach Abdullah Almutairi had expelled 10 senior members including vice-captain Rohit Chand and axed captain and goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu from the final squad of the Qualifiers following a disagreement over accommodation plans in the closed camp. Nepal bowed out of the qualification contention following losses against hosts Kuwait, Jordan and Indonesia.
Almutairi—who chose to stay on a three-month leave in his home country following the qualifiers—resigned earlier this month. But the Kuwaiti coach, whose tenure with the Nepal national side was marred by several controversies, left a big void in the Nepali football team.
Caretaker coach Pradip Humagain, appointed in August for Bangladesh friendly, has recalled all the players expelled by Almutairi, except Suman Lama, who is currently in Australia.
Goalkeeper Limbu will lead the national team again but at the cost of Nawayug Shrestha and Pujan Uperkoti—both of whom held the captain’s armband in the Asian Cup qualifiers in the absence of Limbu—who have been left out by Humagain.
Rohit Chand, Ananta Tamang and Dinesh Rajbanshi are back in the defence. Bimal Gharti Magar and Anjan Bista will once again spearhead the front line alongside playmakers Sujal Shrestha, Bishal Rai and Tej Tamang. Bishal Shrestha will back up Limbu at the goal.
The national side are back in single piece again after almost four months but coach Humagain will face a real test in his first game in charge against a side Nepal have remained unbeaten in the last four matches.
Humagain expects a tough match but is aiming to continue Nepal’s unbeaten streak against Bangladesh.
“We know team Bangladesh very well,” Humagain said at a pre-match conference in Kathmandu. “They are a very strong side. We will welcome Bangladesh at our home ground but we will play to win. We have prepared very well. I will field the footballers as per my own philosophy.”
Nepal last faced Bangladesh in October last year in the SAFF Men’s Championship in the Maldives. Nepal had earned a 1-1 draw after a late Bista equaliser at the National Football Stadium in Male to reach their first ever final of the sub-continental competition, before losing 3-0 to record eight-time champions India.
In March 2021, Nepal played a goalless stalemate against Bangladesh at the Dasharath Stadium in the group stage of the Three Nations Cup, before defeating them 2-1 in the final to win the trophy in March 2021. The Cup also involved the Kyrgyzstan U-23 team.
Nepal's last defeat against Bangladesh came in a friendly match in November 2020. Bangladesh were 2-0 winners. The second friendly ended in a 0-0 draw.
The two teams have faced each other 26 times in the past, with Bangladesh winning 13 of them. Nepal have won seven games while five matches were drawn.
Bangladesh’s Spanish head coach Javier Cabrera said his side is full of confidence after their Thursday’s friendly 1-0 win over Cambodia.
“Our players are motivated after the win in Phnom Penh. Our preparation for the Nepal friendly is very good,” said Cabrera. “The previous results do not count for me. I am confident our boys will give their best against Nepal.”
Defender Ranjit Dhimal and long-time goalie Bikesh Kuthu—both of whom were never Almutairi’s first choice—have found their way back to national duty.
Forwards Ashish Chaudhary and Ritik Khadka have received their first call up.
Winger Sunil Bal is out injured and forward Ayush Ghalan, who was on national duty at the recently concluded SAFF U-20 Championship, has also not been included in the squad.
Goalkeepers: Kiran Limbu, Bishal Shrestha, Deep Karki, Bikesh Kuthu
Defenders: Rohit Chand, Ananta Tamang, Bikash Tamang, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Bikash Khawas, Suman Aryal, Rejin Dhima
Midfielders: Sudip Gurung, Tej Tamang, Sesehang Angdembe, Bishal Rai, Sujal Shrestha, Suraj Jeu Thakuri, Arik Bista
Forwards: Bimal Gharti Magar, Anjan Bista, Hrithik Khadka, Manish Dangi, Ashish Chaudhary