Nepali U-22 national team is in the later phase of preparations for the AFC U-22 Group D qualifiers to be held at the Dasharath Stadium, Kathmandu from June 2-10. Nepal has been drawn along with Jordan, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Bangladesh. This is the first edition of the tournament under this age group. Top two teams from the group and best second runner up from among all seven groups will qualify for the next stage. Republica´s Prajwal Oli caught up with coach Krishna Thapa at the Halchowk ground, after the team´s match against Nepal XI on Wednesday. Excerpts.
How is the training going on?
The training is going on as planned. I have submitted my month-long training plans to ANFA and I have divided the training into two sections -- physical and tactical. The physical training concluded yesterday (Tuesday) after 20 days training and the tactical part that began today will run for the remaining time (10 days). All the players of the squad are fit and free from injuries. Overall the training is going on smoothly.
When will the final squad be announced?
We are working on that and the squad will be finalized shortly. May be tomorrow (Thursday) three players will be axed from the 27-member team.
What is your team´s target?
Our target is to qualify for the final round. And I am very much optimistic that we shall qualify for the final round. We have got an excellent team and we also have the advantage of being the host.
What are the major strengths of your team?
Each player is fit and individually skilful. Every department of the team is strong. Our forwards Bharat Khawas and Sujal Shrestha are strong and we also have a good set of midfielders consisting of midfielder Shiva Shrestha, Anil Ojha, Rupesh KC and Jagjeet Shrestha and others. We also have experienced defenders like Rohit Chand, Bikash Singh Chhetri, Rabin Shrestha, Deepak Bhusal, Sabindra Shrestha and others. Besides this, other members of the team, including team physiotherapist Nawal Gurung, manager Karma Tshering Sherpa and assistant manager Madhusudan Upadhyaya are hard working, friendly and supportive.
What are the major drawbacks of your team?
The boys are not technically sound. The marking is not good. I will work on this to improve this along with other tactical aspects.
Do you have any other plans up your sleeve?
Other than tactical part, I have requested ANFA to arrange at least two friendly matches with foreign teams. If we don´t get foreign teams we will play official matches with the senior national team as the qualifiers will begin after 10 days.