5 Oct 2009 - Nepal will take on Lebanon Monday in the AFC U-16 Championship Group B qualifiers. Despite playing an unknown opponent, Nepal, considered an average team in the group, is hopeful to utilize home advantage to begin well. “We will play for a win,” says Dambar Gurung, Nepal´s coach.
However, underestimating them could be dangerous.
Looking back to the history, Nepal U-16 has always been lucky in the home ground. Nepal has twice qualified for the final round in 2000 and 2005. Both of the qualifiers were held in Nepal on the occasion. In the 2005 edition, Nepal defeated Kirgizstan 2-1 and Uzbekistan 2-0.
The match will be an opportunity for coach Dambar Gurung to showcase his talent. Gurung, who accepts that the match will decide his future in the Nepali football, is confident to repeat the history.
“My aim is to be the national team coach," he said. "This tournament is an opportunity to prove myself as it´s a real test forboth the U-16 team and myself.”
Nepal will be playing in 4-4-2 formation. Revealing Nepal´s strategy Gurung says, “We will play offensive. If we play offensive, our defense will also be good.” He believes to have the strong midfield.
However, he laments the lack of good finishing and inexperience of the team. “We have not played any practice match with good team which could be a drawback.”
Five teams including Nepal, Tajikistan, Bahrain, Lebanon and Iran are contesting in the tournament following the withdrawal of the Maldives. Gurung considers Iran as a powerhouse. “Other teams are of same level to us,” he adds.
"We are ready for Monday´s match and will play for the success", Nepal´s captain Sulav Maskey says.
Lebanon started preparation for the tournament three months ago and has come up with good spirit. According to coach Nasir Bakhti, the team played against Jordan, Qatar and Lebanon last month as a part of preparation.
Lebanon defeated Bhutan and Sri Lanka in the last qualifiers and defaeted both easily. Their history against South Asian games have uplifted their spirit.
Bakhti dubbed Iran and Bahrain as the strongest teams of the pool. “We don´t know about the Nepali team but we will try to come up with the best performance,” he said.
For the match at the Dashrath Stadium, Nepal will have to watch out for physically well-built Leboneses.
Nepal: (Possible XI) Laxman Thapa (Goalkeeper), Kusal Shrestha, Ganesh Thapa, Man Bahadur Tamang, Manoj Bista, Sulav Maskey (Captain), Laxman Mahat, Santosh Thapa, Hem Tamang, Amar Dangol and Ram Thapa.
Monday´s Matches: Bahrain vs Tajikistan @ 1230, Nepal vs Lebonan @ 1500. Both matches at Dashrath Stadium.