By Olmin Leyba
MANILA, Philippines - Although lower in world ranking and 0-3 against the Philippine Azkals in their last three meetings, Nepal will go into their AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers duel with the host Pinoys positive about their chances for a reversal.
The 170th-ranked Nepalis, who in prior friendlies with Phl conceded a 0-4 loss in 2011 and a pair of 0-3 setbacks in 2014, set out to reverse the trend when they clash again with the No. 124 Azkals in Group F of the ACQ on Tuesday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
“The Philippines’ players are physically and technically sound than us but it does not mean we are not capable of winning the match,” Nepal coach Gyotuku Koji was quoted by The Himalayan Times. “We will definitely go for a win.”
The Gorkhalis draw confidence from their twin triumphs in 2016, the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in Bangladesh and the AFC Solidarity Cup in Malaysia.
“Those successes have instilled confidence in the team and we will give the Philippines a tough fight,” Nepal skipper Biraj Maharjan, who also captained the U-23 squad that ruled the 2016 South Asian Games, said.
Maharjan said the 20-man team “prepared well for the encounter and the players are ready to give their best performance.” He, however, expressed concern on the hot weather in Phl as opposed to the cool environs in Nepal.
The Gorkhalis, who left Kathmandu for Manila yesterday, didn’t play a tuneup before the duel with the Azkals.