Anil highest paid Nepali footballer

source: The Kathmandu Post

31 Oct 2009 - National footballer Anil Gurung became the highest earning player of the country after signing a three-year Rs 6.3 million contract with Indian 'A' division Shillong Lajong Football Club (SLFC). This is the highest salary offered to any Nepali sportsperson so far.

Gurung had earlier tried his luck at England, where he had appeared in trials for the Woking Club.

Saurav Rai of Kalingpong, who is currently based in Kolkata, helped Gurung sign the contract with SLFC after a 15-day trial period.

SLFC signed Gurung up after his good showing at the Governor's Gold Cup in Sikkim, where he had represented Nabil Three Star team of Nepal. Back then, Rai had contacted All Nepal Football Association spokesperson Lalit Krishna Shrestha, who is also the president of Three Star Club, about the ongoing negotiations on Gurung.

In his first year, Gurung, a Pokhara native, will earn Rs. 1.3 million, which will be hiked to Rs. 2 million and Rs. 3 million in the second and third year respectively. SLFC climbed to the ‘A’ division only this year and are currently seventh in the table with 14 Indian clubs.

In the current season, SLFC have won two matches while losing three. Gurung, a product of Sahara Academy of Pokhara, started playing professional football in 2061 BS. He has played for Brigade Boys, MMC, Three Star and NRT Club.

BFF announced 21member side of SAFF

27 Nov 2009 - Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) announced a 21-member final squad for the SAFF Championship to be held at the Bangabandhu National Stadium from December 4 to December 13.

Interim coach Shahidur Rahman Shantoo picked up the team from the 26-member side as Mustaq, Alamgir, Rezaul Karim Reza, Manik and Chambin Rakhain failed to get their places in the final list.

Bangladesh have been drafted in Group B along with Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bhutan while Group B comprises Maldives, India, Afghanistan and Nepal.

Bangladesh will play their first match against Bhutan on December 4. They play their second group match against Pakistan on December 6 and take on Sri Lanka on December 8.

The final is scheduled for December 13.


Aminul Haque (captain), Biplob Bhattacharya, Mazharul Islam Himel (goalkeepers), Nasir Hossain, Mahiuddin Ibnul Siraji, Ariful Islam Arif, Rajani Kanta Barman, Mamun Miah, Wali Faisal, Atiqur Rahman Mishu (defenders), Mamunul Islam, Sahedul Shahed, Pranotosh Kumar Das, Zahed Parvez Chowdhury, Mehedi Hasan Ujjal, Arman Aziz, Zahid Hossain (mid fielders), Enamul Haque, Abdul Baten Komal, Zahid Hasan Emily and Mithun Chowdhury.

source: The Daily Star

Coach Urbanyi partially happy with the result against Malaysia

27 Nov 2009 - Maldives national team coach Istvan Urbanyi is not fully happy with the performance of his boys despite a solitary goal win over Malaysia yesterday. Urbanyi’s biggest concern when recalling the game was the missed chances.

“I am partially happy with the result. Our main target was to win and not to concede a goal. I am happy we achieved that. But we should have scored more as we got a lot of open chances” Urbanyi said, speaking to maldivesoccer.com.

The hot weather was a big complaint from the Hungarian, who is so concerned with players’ fitness.

“The weather was terrible today. It was very hot and the players were feeling it”

“We started to play well, but we missed too many chances.”

Urbanyi made eight substitutions in the second half and Ahmed Thoriq (Tom) and Ali Ashfaaq (Dhagey) played most of the time in the game and were substituted very late in the game. He noted he wanted to give the duo more time on the pitch.

“I wanted to give more time to Tom and Ashfaaq. They need more match fitness and that was the reason I wanted them to play. They still need more games to play”

Maldives scored the lone goal from a penalty that was awarded as a result of a hand ball by the opponent defender. Urbanyi was also full of praise for the opponent side.“

They were a strong side. They played very quick passes and it was an attacking game. ”

Urbanyi noted that the win will lift players’ spirit ahead of the upcoming games.“

It’s a good feeling for the players and it would improve the self confidence. “Maldives will face Malaysia under 21 team on Sunday and will leave for Dhaka on December 1st. Maldives is placed in group A of this year’s SAFF championship with India, Nepal and Afghanistan.


Bangladesh confident

Bangladesh, 03 Dec 2009 - It's been three weeks since the sacking of Brazilian coach Edson Silva Dido over his selection choices, but it seems his presence still lingers and casts a dark shadow over Bangladesh football and everyone is concerned whether Bangladesh can regain regional supremacy and end a six-year draught.

Bangladesh's official press briefing also centred partly around Dido and the obvious question was raised whether Bangladesh would be able to regain the title after terminating their coach prior to such a big tournament.

"Dido is now past and his sacking doesn't put us under any pressure," Bangladesh team manager Satyajit Das Rupu said. "Now I can say Bangladesh will play SAFF Championship with our best players, who have no lack of commitment."

Bangladesh's captain-cum-goalkeeper Aminul Haq, though, acknowledged the contribution of Dido who had a two-month long conditioning and residential camp in order to make the players stay fit throughout the year.

"We've had two month's training under the guidance of Dido which has helped the players in the domestic competitions. Besides, we were in action after the camp and those things have been inspiring us towards playing better football in front of the home crowd."

Aminul, country's number one goalkeeper, informed that he has had talks with every player and they are all committed and want a repeat of 2003.

"After having talked with the players, it seems to me that all the players are committed to do well and I believe we are capable of emerging champions at home. The onus now rests on us, the players," said Aminul.

Interim coach Shahidur Rahman Shantoo is also optimistic with his charges and promised to take the hosts to the final.

"During my 19-day camp, I have tried my best to solve technical problems the boys had before and also tried to rectify their mistakes through three practice matches and I am confident about reaching the final," said Shantoo.

Shantoo has already studied his group opponents Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Pakistan and he believes that all the teams are of similar strength.

"From what I have heard about our opponents, I can assure you that we will play better football than them and if the boys can execute my plans during the matches, it is very much possible to emerge as champions."

Bangladesh were eliminated from the group stages in the last edition of SAFF championship after playing a 1-1 draw against Bhutan, a 2-2 draw against Afghanistan before going down 1-0 to Sri Lanka in the final group match.

However, Bangladesh under the guidance of Dido broke their three-years winless streak handing a 1-0 defeat to Cambodia during the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers early this year at home.

source: The Daily Star

Tajikistan defeat Nepal Yemen, Palestine share points

source: myrepublica.com

Kathmandu, 29 Oct 2009 - Nepal suffered a 2-1 defeat against Tajikistan on Thursday in the ongoing AFC U-19 Championship group ´A´ qualifiers held at the Dasharath Stadium.

With two matches remaining, Nepal now only has a slim chance of qualifying for the final round. From the three matches played Nepal has accumulated three points to stay in the fourth position, while Tajikistan with its cent percent record is on the top of the table.

Nepal making a good start came up with short and low passes to take control of the first half of the match. The hosts took an early lead in the match in the 11th minute through Nirajan Malla. Malla headed from near the post in the corner kick of Rohit Chand.

However, Nepal failed to continue with the lead as the equalizer came just one minute before half time through penalty kick. The Tajiks were awarded with the penalty after defender and skipper Deepak Bhusal took down Davronov Nuriddin in the box. Nuriddin did not make any mistake to send the ball past the Nepali custodian to level the match.

The second-half of the match was competitive and Nepal could not continue with their tune. Nepal made a lot of mis-passes and errors in comparison to the first-half. Tajikistan scored the winning goal from a simple free kick from about 35 yards by Abdulloev Sheroz as Nepali custodian Dinesh Thapa Magar made a blunder to shock the home fans. Magar came in front to take the ball, but the ball bounced back and took the direction toward the post in slow motion.

Earlier, in the fifth minute Malla´s powerful strike from the box off Jagjeet Shrestha´s corner kick went above the bar. In the 72nd minute, Nirajan failed to give the final touch to a spectacular pass off Bhusal. The Tajiks too missed about half a dozen chances of scoring in the match.

Nepali team captain Bhusal was sent off the ground in stoppage time after he was slapped with second yellow card in the match.

“I am satisfied with the team´s performance and the Tajiks are a very good team,” commented Nepal coach Raju Shakya. “Four of my players played despite injury and the second goal we conceded was due to the blunder of the custodian,” he said.

Tajikistan coach Gafurov Salukhidini said that the match was interesting and it was very tough for them. “It was a really tough match against the hosts and Nepal played very well,” he said.

Earlier, in the first match at the same venue Palestine came from behind twice to play a 2-2 draw against the technically strong Yemen team to open their account in the points table. Asaad Ali and Aiman Al-Hagri scored one each for Yemen in the 31st and 79th minutes respectively. Ali netted inside the box capitalizing a pass off Al-Hubaishi and Al-Hagri scored in between two opponents from the box utilizing a pass from Al-Hubaishi.

Both the goals for Palestine came in the second half. Utilizing a free kick pass from near the center line, substitute T Nababta scored from inside the box after beating a defender and custodian Mohammed Waleed. Similarly, Nababta netted the second equalizer in the last minute of stoppage time utilizing a ball that rebounded off custodian Waleed´s hand.

Yemen coach Sami Hasan said that it was a blow for the Yemen team and the Palestine team played with enthusiasm. “However, we still have chance to enter into the next round,” he said. Palestine´s French coach Moussa Bezaz, satisfied with the team´s performance, said that his team performed well. “The players exhibited good performance, especially in the second half. We had fitness problem against Jordan and Tajikistan,” he said.

In the match played at the Halchowk Ground, pointless Kyrgyzstan suffered a 2-1 blow from Jordan. Mustafa Saleh and Suhib Wihaybi scored one each for Jordan in the sixth and 45th minutes respectively, while Talaibek Baktai scored a consolation goal for Kyrgyzstan in the 17th minute.

Jordan and Yemen with seven and five points are in second and third spots respectively. Palestine opened their account with one point to climb into the second last spot and Kyrgyzstan at the bottom with no points in the six-team contest.

Nepal meet leaders Tajikistan

source: myrepublica.com
Kathmandu, 28 Oct 2009 - Nepal will take on leaders Tajikistan on Thursday in the second match of the group ´A´ qualifiers of the AFC U-19 Championship to be held at the Dasharath Stadium.

The match will be crucial for both the teams.

The home team with one win and a loss needs to win the match to keep their hope afloat to advance into the next round. While Tajikistan who have won both the matches played to maintain their winning streak deserve victory against the home team.

Nepal are in the fourth spot with three points behind Tajikistan with six points and Yemen and Jordan four points apiece. If Nepal lose the next match against Tajikistan then the chances of qualifying will merely remain a mathematical possibility.

However, Nepali team has signaled to bounce back in the match. Nepal ended the long drought of goal in their last match with a 2-1 win over Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday. The team is also eager to wipe out the image made by the U-16 team in the U-16 qualifiers held a month ago at the Dasharath Stadium. Unlike the U-16 squad which was unable to score a single goal in the entire tournament the team is also under pressure to save the face and win the hearts of fans.

On the other hand, history shows Tajikistan have always remained lucky in Nepali ground. Tajikistan qualified for the final round of U-16 as the runners-up on the basis of goal difference. In this tournament too, Tajiks have not conceded any goals. Besides this, they will also have the physical advantage over the physically shorter and weaker host team.

The home team will be having the home ground and home supporters advantage.

“We will try to display good footballing and our aim will be to win,” said Nepal coach Raju Shakya.

Some of the crucial players of home squad are injured, he said. “Striker Nirajan Malla, skipper and defender Deepak Bhusal and Rohit Chand and midfielder Ganesh Khadka have gone to visit the doctor for checkup, and Khadka among them is most likely to miss the game,” he said on Wednesday evening.

Tajikistan coach Gafurov Salokhidin is confident of winning against Nepal as his team has been preparing since the last two years. He, however, said, “All teams are prepared, so it won´t be easy for us.”

Salokhidin sees Jordan and Yemen as strong opponents but is not much worried about the rest of the teams. “Only Jordan and Yemen could give us tough challenge,” he said.

In the first match of the day, Palestine will play against Yemen in the Dasharath Stadium and Kyrgyzstan will take on Jordan in the Halchowk ground.

Thursday´s matches

Dasharath Stadium
Tajikistan Vs Nepal 14:30
Yemen Vs Palestine 12:00

Halchowk Ground
Kyrgyzstan Vs Jordan 14:00

Nepal's wait for goal ends, beat Kyrgyzstan 2-1

Kathmandu, 27 Oct 2009 - Nepal´s long wait for the victory ended on Tuesday as the hosts defeated Kyrgyzstan 2-1 in the ongoing AFC U-19 group ´A´ qualifiers held at the Dasharath Stadium.

With the win Nepal opened its account with three points in point table. Nepal which came up with technically sound show as compared to the previous match dominated the match from the beginning in terms of goal possession but had to wait till the second half to end the goal drought of the national team. Nirajan Malla gave lead to the home team in the 73rd minute through a beautiful volley bicycle kick inside the box utilizing a header pass from Sujal Shrestha. Sujal was able to take the ball utilizing an error of opponent defender inside the box.

However, Nepal could not hold the lead as Kyrgyzstan canceled the lead ten minutes later through substitute Abdukaimov Urmat who had replaced midfielder Sydykov Aziz. Umrat headed inside the box utilizing pass from Mambetaliev Salamat.

The under pressure Nepali team from the home supporters caught the tune and scored four minutes before finishing on time to seal the victory. Shiva Shrestha directed the ball towards net in the long cross pass of Ganesh Khadka from the right side.

Earlier, in the 16th minute Nirajan missed in one versus one chance with the opponent goalie as his weak shot went little wide from the goal post. Similarly, Ganesh Khadka cleared a ball from the goal line for the home side in the 44th minute.

Similarly, Nepali custodian Dinesh Thapa Magar made a spectacular dive in 74th minute to save a powerful shot from Geriugov Aznaur. Nepal remained lucky in the stoppage time as Satarov Rashid´s powerful free kick shot rebounded hitting the inner edge of the bar.

Happy with the win Nepal´s coach Raju Shakya said that his team came up technically sound game and the also lauded players for working hard. He, however, said, “They have to learn more. The players also lack coordination among themselves as the key players could not attend last moment training due to injury.”

Kyrgyzstan coach Aleksendrov Vladimir said that they lost because his team did not play well. “My team did not play well and the hosts played well,” he said. He also blamed referee for giving decisions in Nepal´s favor. “The referee supported Nepal and the game was no fair play game as a whole,” he said.

Nepal to start SAFF c'ship against defending chamions Maldives

26 Oct 2009 - South Asian Football Federation yesterday revealed the fixtures of the sixth edition of the regional football meet. Nepal will begin their SAFF Championship campaign taking on defending Champions Maldives on 5th December.

All 15 matches including the semifinals and final will be played at the Bangabandhu National Stadium with two matches of the group stage to be played each day from December 4 to 9. Both semifinals are scheduled for December 11 while the final will take place on December 13.

Nepal have been drawn in Group A along with India, Maldives and Afghanistan. Likewiese, host Bangladesh have been placed in Group B along with Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bhutan.

Writing on the wall for Nepal

Kathmandu, 27 Oct 2009 - Nepal's match against Kyrgyzstan on the second playing day of the AFC U-19 Championship Group 'A' qualifiers on Tuesday is a must win game for the hosts if they are to retain any hope of qualifying for the next round.

In fact a win is important for both the teams owing to their dismal outing in the previous games. Nepal had gone down 3-0 to Yemen while Kyrgyzstan were routed 4-0 by their central Asian neighbor Tajikistan on the first day.

If the first round of matches is any guide, both the teams can be seen as underdogs among the six participating teams. The game promises to a competitive encounter between two evenly matched teams.

After the game against Yemen, Nepal coach Raju Shakya said complained about nothing working in favour of the Nepali team with the players unable to perform to their potential. His midfielders - Ganesh Khadka, Jagjeet Shrestha, Shiva Shrestha and Rupesh K.C - were out of ideas throughout the match. To compound his miseries, the substitutes for Khadka, Jagjeet and K.C. also to failed to find any rhythm. Shakya vowed to improve the team's performance in the next fixtures to stay in contention.

Despite what the score-line suggests, the match was far from a one-sided contest. Yemen had gone in front courtesy an own goal from Khadka; their last came was from a penalty -- which suggest Nepal can still turn the tables with a bit of hard work. Yemen coach had praised the Nepali team as one holding great potential.

Jordan lock horns with Yemen on the first game of the day at Halchowk. Jordan, one of the strong teams in the group, will probably emerge as the better side against Yemen who were fortunate to emerge on top against Nepal.

Tajikistan will look to play a similar game that helped them win 4-0 against Kyrgyzstan when they play Palestine. But Tajikistan will have to work hard against Palestine which made Jordan toil for the 3-1 win.

source: The Kathmandu Post

Nepal thumped in opener

Kathmandu, 25 Oct 2009 - Nepal opened up their campaign of the AFC U-19 Group 'A' qualifiers on a bitter note going down 3-0 against Yemen at the Dashrath Stadium on Sunday.

An own goal from Ganesh Khadka put Yemen in front in the first half and a header from Al-Khamri Ahmed Sadeq Ahmed doubled the advantage for the visitors in the second half. Al-Worafi Essam Saleh Ahmed sealed the one-sided win for Yemen from a penalty.

Earlier in the day, Jordan and Tajikistan got off the mark, bagging three points at the Halchowk Stadium. Jordan downed Palestine 3-1 and Tajikistan routed their central Asian neighbour Kyrgyzstan 4-0.

The game was evenly matched until the first 40 minutes with both sides sharing equal amount of ball possession but all that changed when Khadka scored an own goal planting his header on the top corner from a free kick, leaving goalie Dinesh Thapa Magar helpless.

Nepal were constantly pushed back thereafter and Yemen got their reward after 53 minutes from Al-Khamri Ahmed Sadeq Ahmed header that was connected from a Al-Hubaishi Waleed Moha-mmed Hasan's free kick from just outside the penalty box. The home team still had hopes of reducing the deficit, but a penalty from Al-Worafi Essam Saleh Ahmed on 60 minutes ended any chances of a comeback for Nepal as miss passes and lack of ball possession ruined the home team's play. Ahmed converted the spot kick after his team Aiman Saleh Abdullah Al-Hagr — on a goal bound run — was fouled by defender Niraj Magar inside the penalty box.

Coach Raju Shakya tried desperately to pull a goal back sending in three strikers in the later stages of the game by substituting midfielder Rupesh K.C. for Bishal Rai, but even that failed to click.

Shakya fielded his fit-again striker Nirajan Malla, who had just recovered from an injury from the start. Malla tried his best but his striking partner Sujal Shrestha and

midfielders Ganesh Khadka, Jagjeet Shrestha and Rupesh K.C. could

not penetrate the defence and maintain ball


Shakya later said the team put a below par performance. “The match turned out to be something we had never expected. Our boys could not play well. But we will come out as a different team in the next games by learning from our mistakes.”


Jordan - 3, Palestine - 1

Tajikistan - 4, Kyrgyzstan - 0

Yemen - 3, Nepal - 0

Good start key to Nepal’s success

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.

U-19 football team promises to put up good show

Kathmandu, 24 Oct 2009 - Nepal´s U-19 football team have pledged to cover the loss incurred by the U-16 team during the AFC qualifiers earlier this month.

The AFC U-19 Championship Group A qualifiers is scheduled to begin on Sunday at the Dasharath Stadium and Armed Police Force Headquarters, Halchowk and end on November 4. Nepal is set to face Yemen at the Dasharath Stadium on Sunday.

“We won´t play a game to disappoint you,” coach Raju Shakya promised on the eve of Nepal´s first match against Yemen. Shakya has stressed on the technical aspects, especially in scoring tactics in order to win.

“We have players who scored during the U-16 tournament in Iran two years ago,” he added. “We scored and lost by small margins,” Shakya added. Captain Nirajan Malla scored goals against Yemen and Jordan in the event.

Nepal´s strength is team work. “The team has five years´ experience of playing in different age groups and the players know each other well,” said Shakya.

During practice and training sessions, the team have performed well in the matches against teams of Nepal Army and Nepal Police Club.

Last year, the team reached the final of an event in Tahahun and lost to Army Club in the final in penalty shoot-out.

Coach Shakya is wary of the fact that destiny is not in our hands but promised that the team will try its best to qualify for the second round. “Victory or defeat happens in game but we will play well and not let you down,” said Shakya.

Players were also upbeat. “We have to show good results to cover the loss of the U-16 team,” defender Deepak Bhusal said.

Unlike the U-16 team, the U-19 team comprises of experienced players like Deepak, Rohit Chand, Nirajan and Ganesh Khadka. Deepak and Rohit have experiences of playing in the national team.

The star striker Nirajan is recovering from a foot injury and may miss the first match. There is 90% chance for Malla to appear in the first match, according to Shakya.

“But the final decision will be made on Sunday morning,” Shakya said. “I don´t want to gamble and risk Nirajan from being injured again.”

Yemen´s head coach Sami Naash said on Saturday that he is satisfied with his team´s performance. “We have no difficulty and the climate is also favorable,” he said. Naash complained about the quality of the field which might affect their performance.

ANFA all set for AFC U-19 qualifiers

Kathmandu, 23 Oct 2009 - All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) has completed preparations for the AFC U-19 group ´A´ qualifier matches to be held at Dasharath Stadium and APF Ground at Halchowk from Sunday.

Organizing a press conference at the Dasharath Stadium on Friday, ANFA General Secretary Dhirendra Pradhan said the technical manpower -- match commissioner, referee assessors, FIFA referees and assistant referees -- deployed by the Asian Football Confederation to conduct the tournament has arrived on Thursday. An assistant referee will be arriving on Friday evening.

Three matches -- two at Dasharath Stadium and one at APF Ground -- will be held each day on Oct 25, Oct 27, Oct 29, Nov 1 and Nov 4. The second match at the Dasharath Stadium will be telecast live on NTV2. The entry fee has been set at Rs 100 in simple and Rs 200 in VVIP parapet.

Sunrise Bank that has sponsored Rs 1.5 million for the event is the main sponsor of the tournament. Speaking on the occasion, general manager of the bank Suman Neupane said they would further extend support to sports sector if the bank continued with their ongoing financial progress.

Meanwhile, assistant coach of Nepali team Kishor KC said the team is fullly prepared and will try to come up with good shows in the matches. “Our aim is to qualify for the final round,” he said. “The attacking line-up of the team will be strong if Nirajan Malla plays the match.” Malla was injured last Wednesday while undergoing training and had to take rest for a week. “He is 90 percent fit and I hope he will be able to play the matches.”

He also said all the teams are physically dominant than the Nepali team. KC has judged Yemen as the strongest opponent for the Nepali side. Revealing the strategy of the team, he said the team will come up in the 4-4-2 formation.

Six teams --Tajikistan, Jordan, Yemen, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan and Nepal -- are pitted in the group. Top two teams of the group will advance into the final round of the tournament to be held next year. The matches will be held on the round robin basis.

Match Schedule

October 25, Sunday
Tajikistan Vs Kyrgyzstan @ 12:00 Dasharath Stadium
Jordan Vs Palestine @ 14:00 Halchowk Ground
Yemen Vs Nepal @ 14:30 Dasharath Stadium

October 27, Tuesday
Jordan Vs Yemen @ 12:00 Dasharath Stadium
Nepal Vs Kyrgyzstan @ 14:30 Dasharath Stadium
Tajikistan Vs Palestine @ 14:00 Halchowk Ground

October 29, Thursday
Palestine Vs Yemen @ 12:00 Dasharath Stadium
Tajikistan Vs Nepal @ 14:30 Dasharath Stadium
Kyrgyzstan Vs Jordan @ 14:00 Halchowk Ground

November 1, Sunday
Kyrgyzstan Vs Palestine @ 12:00 Dasharath Stadium
Nepal Vs Jordan @ 14:30 Dasharath Stadium
Yemen Vs Tajikistan @ 14:00 Halchowk Ground

November 4, Wednesday
Tajikistan vs Jordan @ 12:00 Dasharath Stadium
Kyrgystan vs Yemen @ 14:00 Halchowk Ground
Palestine vs Nepal @ 14:30 Dasharath Stadium

50 footballers called for national team camp

Kathmandu, 22 Oct 2009 - All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) called 50 players for the preliminary training camp for the Sixth South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship on Wednesday. The football governing body also handed over the responsibility of coaching the team to Krishna Thapa and Maheshwor Mulmi.

But the responsibilities of two senior coach is still undecided.

ANFA wrote to clubs with the names of the players and requested to send them for the training from Sunday.

Nabil Three Star Club tops the chart as 14 of its players are called. Anjan KC, Lokbandhu Gurung, Pradeep Maharjan, Yugal Kishor Rai, Santosh Sahukhala, Sandeep Rai, Sanjib Budhathoki, Prabin Karki, Anil Ojha, Bikash Singh Chhetri, Surendra Tamang, Kiran Chemjong, Bijay Gurung and Visad Gauchan are the club´s players called for the camp.

Likewise, 10 players, along with Captain Rakesh Shrestha, are called from Nepal Police Club. Ritesh Thapa, Rabin Shrestha, Suman Subedi, Bhola Silwal, Jumanu Rai, Dipen Shrestha, Yogesh Shrestha, Roshan Karki and Chetan Ghimire are other police personnel for the training camp.

Seven players of NRT - Biraj Maharjan, Sagar Thapa, Ranjit Shrestha, Anil Gurung, Laxman Ruchal, Suvash Rai and Khum Gurung - were called along with custodian Bikash Malla, Chun Bahadur Thapa, Raju Tamang, Santosh Nepali, Biswa Bairag Samal and Bikarna Shrestha from the Nepal Army Club.

Likewise, Dipak Bhusal, Nirajan Khadka, Rupak Shrestha, Nuraraj Kafle, Pukar BK, Shisir Adhikari and Bharat Khawas of Friends Club as well as Santosh Gurung, Dipak Rai, Dilip Chhetri of RCT are also called in the team. Ganesh Lawati, and Amir Shrestha of APF and Shekhar Limbu of Boys Union are also in the fifty-member list.

Nepal is in the tough group of the tournament scheduled to be kick off on December 5 in Bangladesh. Nepal have to take on defending champion Maldives, four time winner India and physical power Afghanistan.

Nirajan recovers from injury for AFC U-19

Kathmandu, 21 Oct 2009 - Nirajan Malla - one of the key players of the U-19 national squad - who had his right ankle sprained last Wednesday, has recovered from the injury. Malla who was injured while undergoing close camp training will return on training from Thursday.

The national U-19 squad is undergoing close camp training for the AFC U-19 group ‘A’ qualifiers to be held in Kathmandu from Sunday. Meanwhile, midfielder Suman Khadka has sustained injuries on Tuesday. Khadka has a swollen leg and might be recommended for a week’s rest.

“Niraj is our key player and I hope he will make a successful comeback. We have expected good performance from him. The team’s confidence may be down in his absence,” said chief coach Raju Shakya. The names of the last 23 players have also been finalized.

Nepali team has been exhibiting better performance in the age group as compared to the senior squad. Nepali football lovers always have high expectations with the age group. However, the U-16 team’s poor performance in the recently held AFC group ‘B’ qualifiers at home has raised serious question marks.

Mrigendra Mishra and Kishor KC are the assistant coach of the team. Coach Shakya is also hopeful that the U-19 team’s performance will make up for the defeat suffered in U-16 qualifiers. The U-19 team is under training from last three months. Shakya, however, said it would be early to say if the team would advance into the next round.

“We are unaware of the opponent’s strength. Whether the team will advance into the next round can only be said after playing with them. There is lack of playmaker in our team and we are focusing on it,” said Shakya.

Tajikistan, Jordan, Yemen, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan and Nepal have been pitted in group ‘A’ in the U-19 qualifiers held two years ago. Nepal was placed along with Jordan, Yeman and Palestine. Nepal had lost 2-0 to Jordan and 3-0 to Yemen and defeated Palestine 3-0. Nepal has qualified for the final round on U-19 in 2004. The U-19 team is exerting full pressure to put up a good show in the qualifiers.

Goalkeepers : Dinesh Thapa, Bishal Shrestha, Prasodh Joshi
Defenders: Rabi Thapa and Rohit Chand (main defense), Pratap Saiju (L), Deepak Bhusal (R), Neeraj Remi Magar, Badal Ghising, Naresh Pokhrel and Kovit Karki.
Midfielders: Rupesh KC and Shiva Shrestha(centre-mid), Jagjit Shrestha (L), Ganesh Khadka (R), Ram Krishna Gurung (L), Amir Shrestha (R), Komal Khawas and Suman Khadka (centre-mid).
Strikers: Nirajan Malla, Sujal Shrestha, Bishal Rai and Roshan Devkota.

Injured Nirajan Malla hopeful to strike

Kathmandu, 17 Oct 2009 - After the poor performance of football team in the AFC U-16 Championship qualifier at home, Nepali football lovers hope the U-19 team will put on better performance to heal the pain during the AFC U-19 Championship qualifier.

The Group B qualifiers of the U-19 Championship will kick off on October 25 at the Dasharath Stadium, Kathmandu. The team is intensely focusing on preparation forgetting the festive mood of Tihar.

The team received a bad news on Thursday morning as doctors announced that skipper Nirajan Malla has cracked his right ankle and should rest for at least seven days.

Nirajan hurt himself while jumping to collect an aerial ball on Wednesday evening’s training. He applied first-aid but on Thursday morning, the doctors examined him. He is now with plasters on his right foot resting at the ANFA Academy hostel.

The striker is upset but hopeful that he would recover in time for the matches. “Doctors have advised to take complete rest for seven days and they are hopeful of my recovery,” he said. “I hope I´ll be fit for the first match.”

Nirajan is also keen to perform his best at home as he has already made his marks in age-group teams since entering ANFA Academy six years ago. A promising future star, Nirajan wants to prove in the U-19 age group.

“Nirajan is the pillar of our team,” Ganesh Thapa, All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) president, said. “I´m worried about his injury but hope he will be all right by the time the tournament kicks off.”

It’s odd for the striker to move on crutches and miss the training sessions. “Our coach (Raju Kaji Shakya) had told me to keep high morale and to have willpower for recovery,” he added. “I hope I´ll not disappoint him and my teammates who want me to be on ground.”

The Sankata Club´s striker felt uneasy to be photographed with crutches. “You should also photograph me when I´ll score in the U-19”, the injured striker showed his guts.

“Junior boys had poor show, we want to change the image of Nepali team this time,” he added.

Six nations - Tajikistan, Jordan, Yemen, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan and the hosts Nepal - are participating in the tournament.

Sunrise Bank inks sponsorship deal for AFC U-19

Kathmandu, 15 Oct 2009 - The Sunrise Bank inked the sponsorship deal for group ´B´ qualifiers of the upcoming AFC U-19 Championship on Thursday to be held in Kathmandu from October 25 to November 9.

The Sunrise Bank as the main sponsor will provide a cash support of Rs 1.5million to the host All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) to conduct the tournament. ANFA president Ganesh Thapa and assistant general manager of the Bank Asha Adhikary signed the agreement on behalf of their respective institutions. The tournament will now be named Sunrise Bank Limited AFC U-19 Championship.

Altogether five national teams including Tajikistan, Jordan, Yemen, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan and the host Nepal are slated to participate in the tournament. Three matches will be held per day for five days including two in Dasharath Stadium and one in APF Ground, Halchowk. The top two teams of the qualifiers will advance into the final round of tournament to be held next year.

Speaking at the function, ANFA president Thapa lauded Sunrise Bank for its support to the tournament. “Lack of finance was a challenge. But with support from all sides -- the government, the sports ministry and other institutions - we hope to conduct the tournament successfully,” Thapa said. He also informed that the Ministry of Finance has granted Rs 3 million as support to the recently held U-16 and upcoming U-19 tournaments. Thapa also expressed confidence that the qualifiers would be successfully conducted. “We have recently hosted U-16 and we will successfully host the U-19.”

Thapa, however, lamented on the performance of U-16 team in the recently concluded U-16 qualifiers. Nepal faced defeats in all the matches and secured last position in the five team qualifiers that concluded on Tuesday. “This is the worst defeat Nepal ever faced at home,” Thapa said. “The ANFA will conduct research regarding U-16 teams” he said. He also expressed hope that the U-19 team would perform better in the qualifiers.

Iran, Tajikistan qualify for final round

Kathmandu, 13 Oct 2009 - Defending champions Iran and Tajikistan qualified for the final round of AFC U-16 Championship as the winner and the runners up from group ´B´ on Tuesday. Iran defeated Bahrain 2-0 and Tajikistan hammered the hosts Nepal 4-0 during the last day of the tournament held at the Dasharath Stadium on Tuesday.

Both Iran and Tajikistan have accumulated equal 10 points and scored 10 goals each but Iran topped the group on the basis of cards conceded. Iran has got six and Bahrain seven yellow cards in the entire tournament.

The hosts Nepal which has came up with poor performance in the entire tournament has its dreams unfulfilled of adding a single point and scoring a single goal. Tajikistan controlled the match from the beginning against the physically weak and short opponents and made more than a dozen good moves in the tournament.

Sultonov Tolibjon gave an early lead to the Tajikistan in the eighth minute utilizing defensive error. Tajiks have to wait until second half to score another. The second goal came from Muhtojzoda Ibrohimi in the 64th minute through superb free-kick from the edge of the box. Tajiks were awarded with the free-kick after Nepali defender took down Tajik player.

Likewise, substitute Rajabalizoda Komron netted the third goal in the 74th minute from inside the box utilizing a cross pass off Abdugafarov Oybek from the right corner. Similarly, skipper Ruslov Dilshod scored the last goal through a powerful strike from the box after beating four Nepali defenders.

Tajikistan´s Ibrohimi missed a penalty in the injury time as his strike went out hitting the pole. They were awarded with penalty after Manoj Bista Chhetri took down Ibrohimi in the box.

Satisfied with the team´s performance Tajikistan coach Babaev Joir said, “The team played well.” Remarking about Nepal´s performance he said, “Nepal played good football but the weak built body and short height are the main drawbacks for the team.”

Nepali coach Dambar Gurung dissatisfied with the team´s poor run in the tournament said he failed in his aim and blamed weak built up of the players, lack of match experience and footballing sense, absence of seriousness and weak finishing line up for the poor results.

“None of the players have footballing sense; they could not learn what I taught them,” said dissatisfied Gurung.

Earlier, in the first match of the day, despite good performance, Iran were able to take the lead only in 44th minute with Captain Fathian Ali´s goal against Bahrain who needed a must win to advance in the final round. Ali scored a penalty shot towards the lower right corner of the net. Bahrain was penalized as Mohammad Rabeea blocked the ball inside the box with his hand while Iranian team were about to strike.

Abbas Aeinechi scored the second goal in 58th minute from within the box, just a few moments before Najafi Damirchi stood outside the ground ready to replace Abbas.

Iran dominated the match with more than a dozen attacks most of which were saved by heroics of Bahrain goalkeeper Jasim Mohamed.

Bahrain missed an opportunity to score in the first minute. Khadin Ebrahim had a good chance to score as Iranian defenders were not around the post but Iranian goalkeeper Khan Alizade saved Ebrahim´s shot.

Besides the first attempt, Bahrain made very few attempts to score. Meanwhile, Iran´s coach Mohamadi Akbar was still not satisfied with the team´s finishing. “We got lots of opportunities, but we missed,” he said. He rated Tajikistan as the toughest opponent for them. Akbar also expressed confidence about winning the final round.

AFC U-16 Group B Final Points Table


Anil speaks out on his England experience

After his unsuccessful attempt to sign a contract for the sixth division English side Woking Football club, Nepali striker Anil Gurung has spoken about the hardships Asians sportspersons face in England.

Gurung said he developed trust among the officials of the club only after they went through his personal bio-data and picture on the net.

Gurung termed the All Nepal Football Association's (ANFA) decision not to give him a no objection letter which was required to present himself at the English club "unsupportive." "If only ANFA had released the letter I would be playing for the club."

Gurung was emotional and looked sad while sharing his experience at the club. He had left for England six months ago hoping to play professional football but returned after three months of training with the club. Gurung was sent home when he failed to produce a work permit.

"If all my documents had been ready on time, it would be a different story," said Gurung who had gone to England on tourist visa. With three months left for his visa to expire, Gurung decided to cut short his England stay keeping the upcoming South Asian Games in mind.

"I will definitely prove myself abroad if I get a second chance. But now I am focused on the South Asian Games. The England trip has also inspired me to do better in the Games."

Gurung is determined to give his best with the help of the skills he learned abroad. Though he has failed in his goal, no one can deny Gurung the credit for being the first Nepali footballer to train for an English club.

"I can say from my experience that the first thing a player needs to be able to play in England is physical fitness, on a much higher level than what we see with Nepali players," said Gurung.

During his stay at the club, Gurung maintained an impressive goal scoring record managing four in six matches he played.

source: The Kathmandu Post

Nepal look for first goal

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.

Nepal out of contention, Iran inch closer

Kathmandu, 11 Oct 2009 - Nepal's hope to qualify for AFC U-16 Cup from Group 'B' has all but ended after a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Bahrain, while Iran strengthened their chances of making it to the next round with a 4-0 win over Lebanon at the Dashrath Stadium on Sunday.

Today's defeat left the host nation rooted at the bottom of the table with no points at all. With the win, Iran has leapfrogged to the top of the standings with seven points from three matches, edging Tajikistan, who also have equal points but on goal difference.

Bahrain are still firmly in the race with six points and can make through to the next round if they win over defending champion Iran in their next fixture.

Second-placed Tajikistan will face the host nation in their next outing and can top the Group if they manage an easy victory against Nepal.

Likewise, Lebanon have ended their campaign with just three points following their defeat against Iran today.

Bahrain, which were reduced to ten-man, played with a numerical disadvantage for 33 minutes after Ahmed Hasan Ali Abdulwahab Hasan was sent off on 23 minutes for a double yellow but the game returned to balance when Samir Limbu of Nepal was also sent off for unsporting behaviour 10 minutes after the restart. Limbu received his marching orders for intentionally kicking Sayed Mahdi Baqer Jaffar Mahdi Naser.

Though Bahrain were reduced to 10-man just 23 minutes into the game, they bagged their first goal five minutes after the incident through a penalty. Skipper Mubarak Salem Saad converted the spot kick awarded for a foul on Kadhim Abdulhusain Kadhem Naser by Ganesh Thapa Magar inside the penalty box.

The penalty put Bahrain back in the game, but for Nepal, which had put up a satisfying performance till then compared to their previous outing, the decision put a negative effect on performance as they conceded four easy goals following the penalty.

Kadhim Abdulhusain Kadhem Naser scored two goals inside three minutes with the first one coming in the 38th minute and Sayed Fadhel Abbas Wahab Hasan added another goal three minutes after the interval. Substitute Ayman Addulameer Khalil Espahim sealed the one-sided win for Bahrain in stoppage time.

Earlier, the hapless Nepali side, yet to score in the event, started out aggressively creating two clear opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the game. But both attempts turned futile as Bahrain defenders successfully cleared the ball from the goal line, though the keeper was well beaten in each occasion.

“The penalty decision by the referee affected the performance of our players largely. I think we had been playing pretty well before that. Besides that our players failed to compete with them physically,” said Nepal coach Damber Singh Gurung after the match.

In the earlier match of the day, Aeinechi Amir Abbas scored a hat-trick in Iran's 4-0 win over Lebanon after substitute Mahdipour Mahdi had opened the scoring for Iran two minutes after the restart. Abbas bagged his first in the 55th minute and added the remaining in the 85th and 86th minute to take his goal count to four in the event.

source: The Kathmandu Post/Pic:www.nepalsportsphoto.com

WB defeat Nepal U-14 in Subroto Cup

10 Oct 2009 - West Bengal defeated Nepal´s U-14 football team in Subroto Mukherji Cup Tournament in sub-junior category on Saturday. West Bengal defeated Nepal 3-0. Earlier, Nepal had won three consecutive games against Jharkhand, Delhi and Asom.

Nepal U-14 is participating in the tournament on behalf of Takshashila Academy. Nepali team will face two more teams in the group matches of the tournament.

Jumanu helps his Maldivian club qualify

Male, 10 Oct 2009 - Nepali striker Jumanu Rai struck twice to qualify Maldivian club All Youth Linkage (AYL) for a spot in the Dhivehi League 2010 (the top Maldivian League). AYL beat Kalhaidhoo on Friday´s qualification match.

From the win, AYL has managed to get 7 points from three games and the Eagles, who are at the bottom of the league have just secured a point with one match remaining.

Jumanu Rai scored the first goal of the match in the 3rd minute. Kalhaidhoo equalized in the 26th minute owing to a superb shot by Ali Moosa. Jumanu again restored the lead for AYL in the 37th minute. However, Kalhaidhoo fought back and scored the equalizer in the opening minute of the second half by Abdullah Sujau. The winning goal came in the 83rd minute from Ali Fasir.

Nepal facing Bahrain but with dim hope

Kathmandu, 11 Oct 2009 - Nepal are at the bottom of the table with zero points in AFC U-16 Group B qualifiers. Nepal´s chances of qualifying as twice before are very dim. Nepal still have some mathematical chances though.

Nepal had qualified for the AFC U-16 championship in home-ground in 2000 and 2005. But this time, if Nepal are to qualify for the championship they need to defeat Bahrain at any cost when they compete at Dasharath Stadium on Sunday. Nepal will be out of competition before the final round if Nepal lose the upcoming match or if it ends with a draw.

Among the participating teams, Nepal are the only team without any point. Other four teams have scored at least three points. Tajikistan are leading with seven points while defending champions Iran are in second place with four points. Bahrain and Lebanon have each earned three points.

Nepal were not able to score a single goal and lost 1-0 in the first match against Lebanon despite dominating the opponents. According to the team´s chief coach Dambar Gurung, Nepal lack strikers. Nepal lost with Iran 3-0 because of the team´s own mistakes. Nepal conceded two goals due to the mistakes of goalkeeper Shamsher Khatri who made his first appearance in the match.

“Playing good is not enough in football, one needs to score,” said Gurung. But Nepal have failed to score. Sunday´s match is equally important for Bahrain. Bahrain must not lose the match in order to qualify. Therefore, Bahrain will use their full strength against Nepal. Only two leading teams will be selected for the final round. Considering the present score, Tajikistan and Iran are most likely to reach the final.

Nepal´s deputy coach Sunil Shrestha says, “We have to defeat Bahrain in order to enter another round. We have no alternatives except victory but that is not possible unless we score. We missed many opportunities.”

Shrestha hinted at some changes in the team but did not disclose the details. Forward Ram Thapa may not play the match against Bahrain as he is injured. According to the team´s doctor Raju Dangol, Thapa is suffering from knee injury.

Iran and Lebanon are scheduled to play the first game on Sunday at Dasharath Stadium.

Iran rout Nepal, Tajik on top

Kathmandu, 9 Oct 2009 - Iran routed Nepal 3-0 in the Group B qualifiers of the AFC U-16 Championship at the Dasharath Stadium on Friday while Tajikistan climbed on the top of the table with seven points after 3-0 victory over Lebanon in the first match of the day.

The home team backed by local supporters, which made good start, conceded all the goals following errors of goalie Shamsher Thapa and the defending line up. Nepali team which came up with better performance in the first half failed to repeat the same in the second half of the match.

Nepal on the bottom of the table with no points after playing two matches now only has a mathematical chance of advancing in the final round.

An own goal from Nepali defender Man Bahadur Tamang in the 34th minute gave the lead to the visitors as the defender and goalkeeper lacked coordination. Tamang´s effort to clear the ball near the goal post off Hossein Natshai entered the net.

Substitute Hassanifar Mohammadreza doubled the lead in 57th minute to put Nepal under more pressure. Nepali goalie Thapa failed to control the ball fully and the ball rolled into the net.

Likewise, goalie Thapa who came to take offside outside box slipped while taking it and opponent player Afinehchi Amir Abbas who controlled the ball did not make any mistakes to send the ball past the net from about 35 yards.

Nepal which made about half dozen good moves in the match twice missed sure chances of scoring. Likewise, Iran made more than a dozen good moves in the match.

Nepali coach Dambar Gurung said that all goals were conceded due to the mistakes of the goalkeeper. He said, “Overall the players played well, we missed three solid chances of scoring.”

Iran coach Mohammadi Agri Akbar said that he was not satisfied with the match. He said, “We were lucky, we created lot of opportunities but could not finish well. Nepal showed good footballing.”

Tajikistan thrash Lebanon 3-0

Earlier, a brace from captain Rasulov Dilshod steered Tajikistan to 3-0 win over Lebanon to continue with their unbeaten streak.

Dilshod, who turned the hero of the match, opened the scoring utilizing a freekick from about 25 yards against the helpless custodian El Mahmoud.

Lebanon´s Mohammad Markabawi had a good chance to equalize in the first half, but he fell down following a tackle from the opponent player. He was shown yellow card after he demanded penalty against the tackle.

Lebanon´s custodian Mohamad Salem Mahmoud was bound to be substituted in the 39th following stomach pain. He was replaced by Ali Hallal.

Two minutes after the resumption of the second half, Tajik midfielder Sultonov Tolibjon volleyed over goalkeeper Ali Hallal to double the lead. Dilshod scored another goal in the 65th minute.

Lebanon got a penalty in the dying minutes of the second half as El Bayad was fouled inside the box by Tajik substitute player Bobokalonov Umar. But, Bayad missed the opportunity as his shot went wide.

Again they failed to score in the last moment of the match after Ali Saad´s magnificent header inside the box from Hussein Dor´s pass went above the bar.

Nepal-Iran winner takes all tussle

Kathmandu, 9 Oct 2009 - After a frustrating loss to Lebanon on the first day of the AFC U-16 Group 'B' qualifiers, hosts Nepal face a daunting task to get themselves off the bottom of the table when they battle defending champions Iran on Friday.

Nepal is the only team among the five that have yet to score a point. Tajikistan are at the top of the table with four points followed by Lebanon, Bahrain and Iran respectively.

Nepal, which must win to remain in contention, need an overhaul in their approach. They need to improve their midfield and as well as convert their chances if they are to bag three points against Iran, a team that will definitely get better as the tournament progresses.

Coach Damber Singh Gurung has vowed to change his team's approach and field better strikers and midfielders after the much-vaunted midfielders failed to live up to expectations on the first day.

Gurung is well aware of Iran's hunger to win after a frustrating goal-less draw in the previous game despite their being the better of the two teams throughout the game.

Iran, however, are not a new opponent for Gurung, who has been with the current Nepali squad for the last two years. Two years ago, Gurung's U-14 team, consisting many of the same players as now, had played Iran twice, coming up with a draw (0-0) and a loss (1-0).

But times have changed and Iran are no longer the same side. Many players in the current Iran squad will represent their senior national squad in the years to come and will probably also be playing in the World Cup, given Iran's strong footballing base.

Even in the Iran-Tajikistan draw on Wednesday, the defending champions managed to show why they are the team to beat in the tournament. Blessed with good physique and the ability to play free-flowing football, Iran had put the Tajiks under pressure right though the match. But one thing they failed to get was goals. Iran, however, can be expected to put the game behind and turn on the screws against Nepal.

"We played a good game but failed to score. We will come out as a different team in the next match," said Iran coach. "The rain also affected the performance of the players."

The first match of the day will see table toppers Tajikistan and Lebanon in action. The game is important for both the teams but Tajikistan will look to maintain their winning run to strengthen their chances of qualifying for the next round. Should Tajikistan win the game, they will establish themselves as the forerunner in the race to the next round.

In their first match against Bahrain, Tajikistan played aggressive football, scoring twice while conceding none. In the second they managed to tame the mighty to earn a respectable draw, thanks in no small part to their keeper Shamsov Bahodur, who has yet to concede a goal in the tournament.

Lebanon will be without one of their key players Tommy Hamod, who was shown a red card at the end of the previous match when he tried to punch Ali Jawher Saad Sultan Faraj of Bahrain on the face.