Nepal host Yemen in crunch game todayThe Gorkhalis play against Yemen at the Dasharath Stadium in the second round of the joint qualification of the 2026 FIFA World Cup and 2027 AFC Asian Cup.
Nepal will be under pressure to deliver at home when they host Yemen in the second round of the joint qualification of the 2026 FIFA World Cup and 2027 AFC Asian Cup at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
Coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese’s Gorkhalis lost their opening match of the qualifiers 4-0 to heavy favourites United Arab Emirates in Dubai last week, and now quickly need to banish the disappointments if they are to stay in contention for third round and Asian Cup.
Nepal were outclassed in every department by the UAE, especially the first half that saw the Arab nation score all four goals to put the game beyond reach.
But captain and goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu is looking to recover from the UAE loss.
“We have forgotten the defeat against the UAE. Our players are mentally strong and ready to take on Yemen. We are under pressure to win and the Yemen clash is very important if we are to progress further,” the 33-year-old Limbu said at a pre-match conference.
Nepal’s second half against the UAE was characterised by dogged determination and stubborn defending as they blocked Portuguese coach Paulo Bento’s team from causing further damage.
Ananta Tamang missed that game due to a knee injury he suffered during a training session. Tamang has recovered but still remains a doubt for the Yemen game. Playmaker Laken Limbu played only 19 minutes against the UAE before he was substituted after sustaining an injury. Laken has been ruled out of the Yemen clash.
This gives another selection headache to Annese, who is still experimenting with a young squad that lacks international exposure, with only seven players having played more than 10 games from the national side.
To make up for Tamang’s absence, Annese started inexperienced defender Chhiring Lama and also debuted Anjan Rai, who replaced Chhiring towards the end of the game. Yogesh Gurung also made his debut replacing Amrit Shrestha in the second half. The coach did not start Arik Bista and Ayush Ghalan against the UAE but Laken’s sidelining means Bista and Ghalan could return to the starting XI against Yemen.
Nepal and Yemen have faced off each other four times in the past. Nepal have lost three and drawn one. The sides last met in the third round of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualification, where Nepal held Yemen to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of Group F in March 2017 before losing the second leg 2-1 a year later.
Overpowering Yemen will be a difficult task for Annese but the Italian is aiming for three points.
“We made several mistakes against the UAE. We will correct them because we want three points. We will play a high quality game against Yemen,” said Annese.
Yemen are also hurt and wounded after losing their qualifier match 2-0 against Bahrain. Yemen coach Miroslav Soukup will look to continue their winning streak against Nepal but is wary not to underestimate the opponents.
“They are a strong team. They played well against a stronger UAE. We will not take the game lightly,” said Soukup.
The UAE lead Group H with three points. Bahrain are also on three points but sit in the second position due to goal difference. Yemen occupy the third position while Nepal are fourth.
A total of 36 teams are divided into nine groups of four teams in the second round. The teams will play against each other on a home-and-away basis, with nine group winners and group runners-up securing their place in the third round of the World Cup qualifiers and automatic berth at the AFC Asian Cup.