Nepal hope to bring their best performance at Three Nations CupThe men's national football team will play at the Dasharath Stadium for the first time since March 2015. Nepal will play Kyrgyzstan U-23 on Thursday before meeting Bangladesh on Saturday.
The Nepali national team is hopeful of putting up their best performance at the Three Nations Cup football tournament that will kick off at the Dasharath Stadium on Tuesday.
The national squad will be playing at the stadium after more than six years, as the national home ground was being restored following the 2015 Gorkha earthquake.
Alghouth the men's U-23 team claimed their 13th South Asian Games (SAG) gold at the ground in December 2019, the senior team has not played in the restored stadium since 2015.
In March 2015, just a month before the devastating earthquake, the senior men’s national outfit had played a goalless match against India as part of the Asian Qualifiers of 2018 FIFA World Cup.
"The national team has not played at the Dasharath Stadium in a long time. Though we have been preparing for the home matches of World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifiers, the matches were postponed due to Covid-19 outbreak," said Rohin Chand, Nepal's star midfielder and vice captain, at a pre-tournament press conference on Monday. “The team is thrilled to play the tournament at the Dasharath Stadium”
Nepal's home match of the joint qualifiers against Australia set for June 30 at the stadium has been postponed while the other matches to be played at the same venue against Chinese Taipei and Jordan have been shifted to Kuwait.
National team coach Bal Gopal Maharjan said that the matches of the tournament were part of the preparation for World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifiers. "We are hopeful to give our best performance. We have been preparing for the joint qualifiers home match for a long time. If we gave our best performance we can get the outcome in our favour," said Maharjan.
Nepal will play Kyrgyzstan U-23 on Thursday, two days after the opening match between Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan U-23. The national team will face Bangladesh in the last group match on Saturday. The sides finishing on top two positions will compete for the trophy.
Nepal had played two friendlies against Bangladesh in November last year. They lost 2-0 in their first match and played 0-0 draw in the next.
"We had been to Bangladesh on the back of very short preparations and we also missed several players then," recalled Maharjan. "But the situation is different now."
Custodian Kiran Chemjong, who plays I-League from Panjan FC, arrived in Kathmandu on Monday. He will be wearing the captain's armband in the tournament.
"We will set the team strategy for our matches after analysing the opening match between Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan," said Maharjan, whose side will miss forward Bimal Gharti Magar and midfielder Bikram Lama to injuries.
Midfielder Sujal Shrestha and defender Ananta Tamang are also doubts.
"Tamang has joined the training. We will make a decision about him on match day," said Maharjan.
Bangladesh coach Jamie Day said their ambition is to be ready for the joint qualifiers matches set to take place in June.
"We have got six new players in the national teams. All members of the squad would get playing time because our focus is to prepare new players and see them," said the Briton, whose side trained for around a week before arriving in Nepal on March 18.
"It is nice to play two international matches after a long time. Home condition and local supporters will give Nepal an advantage. Playing against Kyrgyzstan will be difficult because we don't have much information about them and they are technically sound," said Day.
Kyrgyzstan coach Zholboshov Nurbek said that his side hoped to give a top level performance from the age group team.
"Though we did not have enough preparation time, we are hopeful of giving our best performance," said Nurbek about his youth side with an average age of around 22 years.
Kyrgyzstan goalkeeper Tokotaev Erzhan said the tournament was a great opportunity for them to play against two national sides.