Finally the wait is over! The much anticipated AFC Challenge Cup Football Tournament is starting from Thursday in Kathmandu.
Nepal Vs Palestine
5 PM NST
After the arrival of British Coach, Graham Roberts, Nepal National team has shown great confidence in the International tournaments. Nepal is now no more a "so called" minnows. The results in AFC challenge Cup Qualifiers, FIFA World Cup qualifiers (except first leg against Jordan) and in the SAFF championship has proved it.
The 153rd ranked nation in FIFA ranking, Nepal performed outstanding game in the SAFF championship 2011 but was unlucky to face bitter defeat at the hands of Afghanistan in the semifinal match.
Coach Roberts hasn't changed the squad much from SAFF Championship but three new faces are in the team. Defenders; Sabindra Shrestha and Jitendra Karki, midfielder, Tanka Basnet are the new bie in the team.
History In The AFC Challenge Cup:
Nepal have participated in three out of four editions. AFC Challenge Cup started from 2006 in Bangladesh where Nepal reached semifinals but faced defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka. Pradeep Maharjan had squandered the spot kick for Nepal.
In 2008, Thomas Flath led Nepal to the second round but he left the team due to his personal reason before going to Hyderabad. Local Coach, Birat Krishna Shrestha led the team but Nepal couldn't go to second round. Nepal, however, had won the match against Sri Lanka in the last group match.
Nepal were unable to qualify for the final stage in 2010 edition held in Sri Lanka.
Nepal head coach Graham Roberts loves to field 5-3-2 formation, with two defenders in the flank as attacking midfielders.
Player to be watched:
Attacking midfielder, Bharat Khawas is the man who has been lucky to Nepal since AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers held in Kathmandu last year. He has been scoring goals for Nepal. The brave goal against Jordan in FIFA world Cup qualifiers was one of them. The coach, Roberts mentioned that Khawas had already secured his place in the first eleven. He is surely a player to be watched.
Graham Roberts is looking confident for a good show from his boys against Palestine. "There is no favorites in the competition. All teams are equal when they are on the pitch. It is 11 vs 11. We are playing at home and we will have strong crowd backing us up. Yes, we are playing for the win".
Palestine has stunned all the participating teams just because they amused European team Ajerbaijan 2-0 in a friendly match before coming to Nepal. Ajerbaijan was the same team which defeated India 3-0.
Coach Jamal Mahmoud looks confident with his make shift team. Mahmoud informed media on Wednesday that it could have been strong team if they could have brought all the players who are plying their trade outside the country. Since the tournament doesn't fall in FIFA match-day calender, Clubs are not forced to release the players.
Palestine is surely a surprise package in this competition.
11/10/2011 v. Philippines L 0-4
02/12/2011 v. Maldives D 1-1
04/12/2011 v. Bangladesh W 1-0
06/12/2011 v. Pakistan D 1- 1
09/12/2011 v. Afghanistan L 0-1 a.e.t
History In The Challenge Cup
The 2006 edition was the last time that Palestine took part in the tournament. They were the group leaders from Group C which also had Nepal, Cambodia and Guam where they created history against Guam, by scoring 11 goals. They also beat Cambodia and drew against Bangladesh to go through the group stages. But after having held back Kyrgyzstan goalless in the quarters till normal time, the team in white conceded to Ruslan Djamshidov in the final in the 91st minute for a sad exit.
Player to be watched:
Fahed Attal: If 2006 can be called a golden year for Palestine football, all credit should go to this man. He is also the only person in Palestine history to score a double hat-trick (against Guam), something that no top player has done so far in their history.
"We have had good training camp before coming to Nepal. We were beaten by UAE but we defeated Ajerbaijan, which has boosted the morale of our players. We are here to win the match and we will do that. Nepal is a strong side and it will be an interesting match for sure.
Head To Head:
Nepal and Palestine met earlier in 2008 in Kathmandu. The score was 0-0. This is the second meeting.
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