Nepal ‘Blue’ will take on Sri Lanka in the inaugural match of the PM Cup Invitational Football Tournament here at the Dasharath Stadium on Thursday.
Nepal's international outings against Sri Lanka in the past 10 years have been promising. The last time the sides met was in the qualifying round of the AFC Challenge Cup in Hyderabad last year, where Nepal dished thumped their southern neighbour 3-0. In the SAF Championship in 1999, Nepal edged them 3-2.
Nepal Blue coach Baiju Kapali, who has been involved with football for the past 40 years both as a coach and a player, said Nepali players would have the psychological advantage over their opponents, firstly because they have home support and secondly Nepal has had a good run against Sri Lanka in the recent past. Kapali will be fielding four players of the squad that triumphed over Sri Lanka last year. Sajeev Budathoki, Bhola Silwal, Robin Shrestha and Santosh Saukhala will in the playing squad while experienced custodian Kiran Chemjong will man the nets. Nepal Blue has a squad dominated by young players. Kapali believes his young side has the fighting spirit and dedication required to tackle any opponent. "We just trained for around ten days but our boys have gained match experience playing national football championships held around the country in the past month," added Kapali. Kaplai will use the 4-4-2 formation but he is yet to finalise the squad as some players are still recovering from injuries.
Kapali, now 57, was part of RCT in the club's heydays. He played for 10 years in RCT shirt before coaching the side in 1981. He has been coaching the top-flight outfit for 28 years. However, this is just the second time he has been involved in international football.
Meanwhile, Bangladeshi outfit Arambag, a topflight club back home, arrived here on Wednesday with a 30-member squad.