Kathmandu, 25 Oct 2009 - Former Nepal international and current Nepal U-19 team coach Raju Shakya has vowed to bring the best out of his team in the AFC Championship Group 'A' qualifiers that gets underway in Kathmandu on Sunday.
Shakya said the team would do their best to keep the Nepali flag flying. "We will not let our fans down," he said. He, however, did not speak about the team's chances of progressing to the next round.
Nepal open their campaign against Yemen at the Dashrath Stadium. A bright start in front of the home fans would be a motivating factor for his team, which Shakya believes, are a technically skilled outfit and one which has gelled well with players playing together for the past five years.
The expectations from the Nepal U-19 team are high not only because of the dismal performance of Nepal U-16 team but also because the U-19 squad have produced good results, both home and abroad.
The only damper for Nepal is that skipper Nirajan Malla remains doubtful for the opener. Deepak Bhusal, who along with Chand and Malla, have played for the national team, will probably stand in for Malla.
"We expect a lot from the squad because they are a skilled and reputed unit,' Shakya added. "We have good players like Nirajan Malla, Shiva Shrestha, Rohit Chand, Deepka Bhusal and Ganesh Khadka."
Nepali teams of all age groups have of recent been shaky in front of the goal. It is for this reason that Shakya has focused most of his three-month training session on teaching youngsters shooting skills. "Football is all about goals. If you don't score, you don't win. That is why I have focused my sessions on scoring," said.
While Shakya sounded confident about Nepal's prospects, Bhusal said the team would do their best to justify the faith of the coach.
As for Nepal's opponent Yemen, the team are confident they will notch up an easy win against the host. The team have prepared well for the event with friendlies against neighbouring UAE and Lebanon, among other teams.
The team coach, however, expressed his disappointment about the pitch conditions. "The ground is uneven, unlike what we are used to," he said.
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will play the opening game at the Dashrath stadium followed by a fixture between Jordan and Palestine at the APF Headquarters at Halchowk. Nepal will take on Yemen at Dashrath stadium half an hour after the kick off at Halchowk.