Kathmandu, 13 Oct 2009 - Already out of contention, the least Nepal can do for their fans against Tajikistan on the last match of the AFC U-16 Cup Group 'B' qualifiers on Tuesday is score a goal.
Nepal have yet to score a single goal in the event, let alone bag a point. But scoring against Tajikistan, who have kept three clean sheets in a row, won't be easy, especially considering the dismal form of Nepali strikers.
Though the two teams are on seven points each, Tajikistan trails Iran on goal difference. Tajikistan have five goals from three matches while Iran have seven from as many matches.
Tajikistan and Iran are the clear favourites to qualify for the next round, but Bahrain, just a point behind, has a shot at qualification as well. They can make progress difficult for Iran if they win against the Asian giants in the first match on Tuesday. Tajikistan have an easy opponent and a win for them is almost confirmed unless Nepal pulls off a shocker. But if Nepal does the unthinkable against Tajikistan and the first game goes in favour of Bahrain, the decision of who will accompany Bahrain in the next round will need some real calculation.
But the fact remains: Iran is a better team than Bahrain and Tajikistan is far superior to Nepal. But in the past three games, Iran have often been found wanting in front of the goal though they are a strong team defensively. Bahrain have proven their scoring ability, getting past five against Nepal despite being a man down for 33 minutes.
On the other hand, Tajikistan have been dangerous from long range. In the three matches they have played all their goals have been scored from long range shots. But for Nepal everything so far has gone wrong. Nepal coach Damber Singh Gurung had banked on his defenders and midfielders but they have failed to live up to his high expectations, while for his strikers, he has never had much to say.