KATHMANDU, Aug 12: All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) announced a 21-member national team on Sunday for the Nehru Cup to be held in India from August 22 to September 2, dropping six players from the national team that had participated in the AFC Challenge Cup held in Kathmandu in March.
The team of coaches, led by Krishna Thapa along with his assistants Upendra Man Singh and Hari Khadka, picked the new team on Sunday under the captainship of Sagar Thapa.
Coach Thapa said that a player would be dropped from the 21-member squad after reaching Delhi.
Madhyapur Youth Association´s goalkeeper Bikesh Kuthu, Yeti Himalayan Sherpa´s midfielder Rupesh KC are the new figures in the national side while Bijay Gurung, Bikas Singh Chhetri, Jagjeet Shrestha, Sujal Shrestha and Anil Ojha have made a comeback in the national squad.
According to coach Thapa, 14 players from the last national squad have retained their places in the new squad.
Goalkeeper Bikas Malla, defenders Rabin Shrestha, Deepak Bhusal and Jeetendra Karki, midfielder Tanka Karki as well as Ganesh Lawati failed to retain places in the national side. Goalkeeper Malla is suffering from knee injury while defender Shrestha is taking rest after an operation. Malla and Shrestha had not attended training because of injury.
Machhindra Club goalkeeper Dinesh Thapa Magar also didn´t attend the training camp. "We called in players on short notice. When Dinesh didn´t attend training, his club informed us that he was out of the country," said ANFA spokesperson Lalit Krishna Shrestha.
Likewise, U-22 midfielder Shiva Shrestha also could not qualify for the squad. ANFA, initially, had called in 29 players to the training camp and added two others later. ANFA had called in all the 20-members of the team that participated in the AFC Challenge Cup for the preliminary training. Likewise, eight players from the U-22 team that participated in the AFC U-22 Championship and midfielder Bijay Gurung were also called in. Later, Nirajan Malla and Som Bahadur Malla were also included in the training. However, both the Mallas could not secure berth in the team.
Coach Thapa claimed that the team was picked based on performances in the five practice matches played in Kathmandu. "We have picked players after analyzing their form, fitness as well as technical and tactical skills during the practice matches," said Thapa.
Thapa lamented that the team had very little time for preparations but expressed high hopes of making it to the final of the tournament. "Though we had to prepare in a very short period, our players are fit as all the clubs are preparing for the upcoming domestic tournament, Ncell Cup," said Thapa. "Maldives and host India are familiar rivals for us. We can hope of beating them and qualifying to the final," he added.
Thapa said that he is less aware of Cameroon and Syria and said he will build strategy watching their performance during the tournament. "Syria and Cameroon could be better than us, but we´ll set our strategy against them during the tournament. If we find them mighty, we could play in 5-3-2 formation," said Thapa.
Nepal will take on the Maldives in its tournament opener on August 23. Nepal will lock horns with Cameroon on August 26 in the second match of the round robin league. Nepal will face India on August 28 and Syria on August 30. The top two teams in the round robin league will qualify into the final of the tournament, participated by five teams. The final match is scheduled for September 2.