Nepal and India meet today in crucial clashA victory over the home team will guarantee the Nepali youth team’s place in the SAFF U-20 Championship 2022 final with a match in hand.
With eyes fixed on the final, Nepal will take on well-known foes and hosts India in their penultimate group match of the men’s SAFF U-20 Championship at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, on Sunday.
A victory over the home team will guarantee Nepal’s place in the final with a match in hand. But a draw or defeat against India means Nepal’s final fate will be decided only after Tuesday’s outcome against Bangladesh.
Nepal have won both of their group stage matches with convincing scores of 4-0 against Maldives and 3-0 against Sri Lanka. Unlike Nepal, India lost their opener against Bangladesh 2-1 before beating Sri Lanka 4-0. Bangladesh, having won all three matches, lead the standings with nine points. Nepal are the only team yet to concede a goal in the tournament. Maldives and Sri Lanka are yet to open accounts in the standings.
The teams finishing on top two positions at the end of the round robin league in the five-team contest will book tickets to the final scheduled for August 5.
While Nepal will be aiming to make an easy advance to the final beating India, the hosts will be under pressure for a must win outcome to keep afloat their final hopes. A defeat against Nepal will send them crashing out despite a match in hand. Even a draw would not be sufficient for them to decide their fate on their own.
If the game finishes on a draw, then India must beat Sri Lanka in their last group match on Tuesday and hope that Bangladesh beat Nepal on the same day at the last group match.
Despite Nepal’s comprehensive wins over Maldives and Sri Lanka, India are likely to be tough opponents. But Nepal’s coach Meghraj KC ruled out that. “In the age group teams, all the South Asian countries are of similar level. There could only be a slight difference on their level,” KC said.
“We knew we would play against India before we came for the tournament. We will take all the opponents in the same way. I trust my team and I am confident that our hard work and team effort will pay off. We need to work harder than our opponents and beat them.”
KC informed that there were no injury concerns in the team.
Speaking about the India match, KC noted the geographical proximity between the two countries and how Nepali fans perceive the India game in a special way. “But we as sportspeople take football as a game and we will try our best to implement what we have learnt and try to beat them,” he said. “We need to come up with good performance and try to get good results.”