Kathmandu May 14 - Nepal Police Club take on Taiwan Power Company of Chinese Taipei on the opening day of the AFC President’s Cup qualifying football tournament here at the Dasharath Stadium on Thursday. Apart from Taiwan Power Company, the hosts are pitted in Group ‘A’ against two-time champions Regar TadAZ of Tajikistan and WAPDA of Pakistan. Defending champions Regar TadAz will take on WAPDA in the inaugural match the same day.
The NPC coach Birat Krishna Shrestha expressed confidence of making it to the semi-finals for the third time in a row. “We are mentally prepared for the tournament,” said the coach who guided the departmental team in final of the 2007 edition, losing against Dordoi Dynamo 2-1. The 2008 semi-finalists NPC, however, have been marred by injuries to their key players. Coach Shrestha dismisses the injury concerns saying that only three of his players were injured while four others have gained match fitness. “The only problem with the players like defender Rakesh Shrestha and striker Ju Manu Rai are that they are not fully fit,” added Shrestha. Shrestha also said that Chetan Ghimire will partner Ju Manu up front while Rakesh, Robin Shrestha, Dipak Poudel and Suman Subedi will hold the defense. Likewise, Skipper Ananta Thapa, Parbat Pandey, Bhola Silwal and Yogesh Shrestha are likely to take the midfield responsibilities.“We are not worried about the WAPDA and TPC but Regar TadAz are a very strong opponent and we must play really well against them,” said the NPC coach. Shrestha also believed that they have a psychological edge over Regar TadAz after beating them 2-1 in the semi-final in 2007. “We are also counting on the home adavantage,” added Shrestha. “We are mentally prepared and must win the opener to gain confidence,” said NPC skipper Ananta.
The TPC coach Chen Kuei Jen was also confident ahead of their opening match against the home team. “We are totally different team since we last played here in 2005,”said Jen. “We are fully prepared to take on the hosts,” added the TPC coach.The policemen, who won the Martyrs Memorial ‘A’ Division League three years ago, have been participating in the AFC tournament as the default winners after the ANFA’s failure to organise the national league during the period.
The departmental team will take on Pakistan WAPDA on may 16, while Taiwan Power Company are up against Regar TadAz the same day. The qualifiers concludes on May 18 with two more matches — Nepal Police Club vs Regar TadAz and Taiwan Power Company vs Pakistan WAPDA.The winners of the three groups along with the overall best runner up team will make it to the semi-finals of the fifth edition of the tournament.
Nabil Three Star Club made it to the semi-finals in the inaugural event in Kathmanu in 2005, while Manang Marshyangdi Club crashed out of the qualifiers in Malaysia 2006.The NPC qualified for the 2007 semi-finals after playing a goalless draw against Chinese Teipei before defeating Cambodia next. They booked their berth fo the 2007 semi-finals despite 3-0 defeat to Dordoi Dynamo.