Set to leave for Australia on Wednesday, Nepali team yet to get visaFailing to get the visa two days prior to the scheduled date has raised question if the team would be able to fly as per their schedule on Wednesday.
As Nepali national football team prepare to fly to Australia on Wednesday for their away match of the FIFA World Cup and Asian Cup Joint Qualification tournament, Nepali team have yet to receive their visa by Monday evening.
The match is scheduled for October 10 in the land down under and Nepal are preparing to fly to the island continent eight days before the event to acclimatize with the local conditions and fine tune their preparations when they lock horns against the mighty opponents. Nepal have already booked the ticket for the 36-member team including 23 players and officials via Malaysian Airlines.
However, failing to get the visa two days prior to the scheduled date has raised question if the team would be able to fly as per their schedule on Wednesday. “The visa will arrive by Tuesday,” said All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) spokesperson Kiran Rai. “We are in regular touch with the Football Federation Australian (FFA) and they we have their assurance. Even the FFA are in touch with the Australian Embassy in India.” Nepali team consists of 23 players and 13 officials, according to Rai. Apart from the 36-member ANFA team, 12 individuals including ANFA office bearers and reporters have also applied for accreditation cards. “The Nepali team will train at the Sydney Academy for six days and leave for Canberra, where they are set to vie against the Socceroos,” said Rai.
Though Nepali team are yet to obtain visa, a three-member Australian team headed by the men’s team manager Joel Freeme had already arrived in Kathmandu on September 13 to inspect playing conditions in Nepal for their away fixture which is set for March 31 next year. Freeme not only inspected the match, ground and training facilities but also visited three separate hotels of Kathmandu.
Nepal are placed in Group ‘B’ along with Australia, Kuwait, Jordan and Taiwan in the second phase of Qualifier being held under home and away format. Nepal already played their first two away matches against Kuwait and Taiwan. While Nepal faced a humiliating 7-0 defeat against Kuwait on September 5, they beat Taiwan 2-0 on September 10. Australia have played only one match of the campaign where they defeated Kuwait 3-0.
Australia are among the strongest teams in the group and have made to the World Cup Finals on five occasions: 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 1974. Australia had qualified for the Finals in Russia (2018) after winning their inter-continental playoff match against Honduras.
The group winners of all eight groups and four best runners-up among 40 teams will secure their berth at the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Finals in China as well as the final round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The remaining 24, except for the four bottom placed teams, who fail to pass the joint Qualifiers hurdle will have another shot at earning tickets to the AFC Asian Cup. The 24 teams will fight it out for another 12 berths for the Asian Cup.