Regular choice goalkeeper Bikesh Kuthu and forwards Bimal Gharti Magar and Anjan Bista who were rested in the clash with Bangladesh are expected to start against Maldives, according to coach Raju Shakya.
Feb 13, 2016-Nepal men’s football team look to improve their performance from last match as they have to see past Maldives to secure a berth in the finals of ongoing South Asian Games on Saturday. The semi final clash will start at 7:15pm Nepal Time.
Nepal entered the semi finals of the tournament despite losing their last group encounter with Bangladesh by 2-1, on the back of earlier win against Bhutan by five goals to nil. Regular choice goalkeeper Bikesh Kuthu and forwards Bimal Gharti Magar and Anjan Bista who were rested in the clash with Bangladesh are expected to start against Maldives, according to coach Raju Shakya. However, the availability of star forward Nawayug Shrestha who scored a hat-trick against Bhutan is uncertain due to injury.
Nepal have won SAG football tournament two times in the past – in 1984 and 1993. In 1999, Nepal were defeated in the final of eighth Saff Game by Bangladesh. The team plan to enter the finals of the tournament for the first time in 17 years by defeating Maldives in the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Saturday.
Only the national under-23 team is eligible to play in the SAG men’s football category, with three players over the age of 23 permitted in each team. Twenty players from the team that won the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in Bangladesh last month are in the current Nepali squad. Nepal had defeated Maldives 4-1 in the semi final of the tournament. The Maldivian team also heavily features players that participated in Bangabandhu.
“All the players are excited for the match. We will play the match like it is a final for us and we have our eyes set at winning the gold medal,” coach Shakya, who captained the winning team when Nepal won the tournament 23 years ago, said.