By SushilThapa, Fairfax, VA
Fresh off the heels of British Gurkha Cup success, National League champion Nepal Police Club is looking to make an impression in the second round of the AFC President’s Cup qualifiers in Cambodia.
They take on Dordoi Dynamo, Kyrgyzstan, Phnom Penh Crown FC, Cambodia and Yeedzin FC, Bhutan for a place in the final round of the competition. This is Nepal Police Club’s (NPC) fifth appearance in the championship.
Prior to this they represented the country in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011, and their best ever result was the runners up finish in 2007. Other than that, they have not had great success. They also represented Nepal in the Asian Cup Winners Cup and Asian Club Championship in 1998.
Once more they are in the thick of action. The big question is can they pull it off this time? Granted that the opponents lack the name and recognition, but by no means are they pushovers.
If they hope to make headway and come out with flying colors, they cannot afford to become a bit complacent, sluggish and inconsistent. As a matter of fact, inconsistency has been the team‘s Achilles' heel lately, and unless they can overcome it the trip to Cambodia might turn sour.
Their appallingly poor show in Dharan and Biratnagar early this year speaks volumes of their unpredictability and susceptibility. They did rebound to win the British Gurkha Cup, but the truth is they are far from their best at the moment.
It is very important for the team to maintain a high degree of consistency and precision, especially to keep the momentum going.
Star striker Jumanu Rai who is yet to fully recover from injury is a source of concern for Coach Birat Krishna Shrestha. The departure of international Bharat Khawas has further depleted the team. The good news is though Coach Shrestha has relatively strong bench strength to rely on to make things happen.
Some of them did stand out in the recently concluded British Gurkha Cup and were instrumental in the team’s success. They have another chance to prove themselves, and make a name for them. That said, it is more of a collective effort than anything.
With the winners and runners up qualifying to the final round, the competition is wide open in my estimation. Going by the record books and strength of the four teams, there is not much separating them in terms of expectation and performance.
A good start is a must for NPC to have any chance in the championship. A lot depends on how much the coach can motivate the team and how far players are able to rise to the occasion.
Long as the boys put in extra effort and plays total football throughout the tournament; I still think they can do it.
Based on records, Dordoi Dynamo would have to be hot favorites. They have been winners of the tournament two times and runners up four times as well. Against the physically formidable opposition, NPC has to be at their best and must keep pace with them for a desired result.
Host Phnom Penh Crown FC hopes to cash in on home advantages for success. This will be their fourth championship appearance. They were runners up in the 2011 edition and are looking forward to improve their performance.
NPC must play aggressively to unsettle the home team from the outset. The outcome of the tie can ultimately decide one of the spots for the final round.
Lesser known Yeedzin FC, Bhutan, making its third appearance in the competition cannot be taken lightly. They must be given respect and dealt with firmly and promptly.
To conclude, the two teams that play consistently and makes the most of chances ,obviously, qualify to the final round.
AFC Presidents' Cup Qualifiers
National Olympic Stadium, Phnom Penh
03:15 PM Nepali Time
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is a senior Sports Journalist based in USA.