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AFC U23 Qualifiers Analysis By GoalNepal Columnist Nissan Magar
Jul 21, 2017 02:39:09 PM - AFC U23 Qualifiers Analysis By GoalNepal Columnist Nissan Magar
Nissan Magar, certified coach based in UK

Before I give my take on our U23 AFC campaign, I appreciate the players’ efforts.

Many had not faced opponents of that calibre; and there were players who had never played international matches at that age bracket, therefore it can be challenging.

It will hopefully give the boys a reality check on the level of football that is played at professional level.

I hope all the boys have gained valuable experience and don’t become complacent in Nepal.

1)Strength and Conditioning

Our players are rough diamonds. They have the great raw physical qualities (strength and speed) but they do not have the power to compete in professional level. Their raw physical qualities need tobe developed into POWER (SPEED x STRENGTH).
Our boys need to hit the gym and develop strength first. Strength is the base to POWER, and speed. In particular, our defenders need to hit the GYM. You cannot be a defender and not be POWERFUL at professional level.

True that being tall is advantage for defenders, but our centre backs are taller than Fabio Cannavaro. But look at his vertical jump and the timing of the jumps. All of our attackers and defenders need to work on their VERTICAL JUMPs. They can do this by doing box jumps, depth jumps, power cleans and other plyometrics. But develop strength first.

2)Defending Issues

Our team shape needs organisation. We are fine to start off with, but as soon as opponents get in the HOLEs and pockets of space, we collapse. We need to beware of players getting in these pockets of space. We can do this by being compact between midfield and defensive lines, and putting defensive midfielders as screens (protector). Also, we need constant communication between players to look out for each other.

Our players need to stop diving in with slide tackles. I cannot stand a coach who applauds at slide tackles. It should be saved as the last resort. Every time we slide tackle, we were a man down and they had space to dribble at. Instead, we need to look to set pressing TRAPS. That’s how you win the ball back.

I might do a tutorial on how to set PRESSING traps in future.

3) BALL WATCHING and not tracking back

This one can be hard when you’re being overwhelmed by opponents better than you, and when you’re not in the right mind frame. Our players kept watching at the ball and weren’t checking their shoulders (behind them). A good defender always keeps their eyes on both the ball and the attacker. The oppositions were making blind side runs, and our defender were all ball watching. That’s how they scored majority of goals.

Our defenders need to slightly open their body so they have better peripheral views. They also need to check behind them constantly, and communicate constantly to let each other know who is behind them. Knowing where the attacker is so important because at the end they’re the one who will score.

Our midfielders need to track back once they get beaten. There a lot of times when opponents played through ball to their winger on the wings, who simply cut back to the strikers for easy tap-ins. Our midfielders need to track back and get GOAL-SIDE or atleast man-mark. Those tap-ins may look like it is the defenders’ faults, when in reality, it’s the fault of midfielders who were not tracking back and letting attackers loose. Fitness was one of the reasons for failing to track back.

4) Stop kicking the ball long

We kept chasing the ball, and it’s exhausting. But then when we got the ball back, we simply booted the ball and gave it back to the opposition. Then we ran more and more. At the end, we just FATIGUED.

We need to learn to be PATIENT. Even in the men’s national team, we need to be PATIENT. We need to learn to slow down the tempo of the match. After chasing the ball, the team gets tired. When we win the ball back, that’s the time to take a breather. I might do a tutorial on HOW TO CONTROL THE TEMPO of the match in future if I get enough requests.

5) Pattern of play

I don’t see this, even in the men’s national team. Nepalese players have good fundamental skills (passing, controlling, tackling). However, to play at professional level, you need to know where the passes are going well in advance.

We need atleast 5 favourite attacking patterns of play. Patterns of play are necessary if we are to create goal scoring opportunities. I like to base a team’s performance on goal scoring chances created rather than goals scored. Opportunities created are better indicators of a team’s passing and movement patterns.

Our team tried the opponents on counterattack. But the opponents always had a man extra in their defensive unit. It’s always easier to defend when you have a numerical advantage.


We have good talents in this country. Our players are RAW and have great potentials but none of the U23 players play at professional level yet. Sport science has transformed modern football in the last 20 years.

Forget national teams, even Indian clubs and European semi-professional clubs use sport science these days. We need to sooner or later introduce SPORT SCIENCE in our national team. Otherwise, I only see more FAILUREs in the future.

Pic: Basu Dev Awal / NSJF
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