AFC Solidarity Cup Final: Nepal Preview

NEPAL Football
Photo: AFC

Kuching: Nepal coach Koji Gyotoku is hoping victory over Macau on Tuesday evening in the final of the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 will provide much-needed focus on rebuilding the football infrastructure within the nation following last year’s devastating earthquake.

Large parts of Nepal were adversely affected by the massive tremor last April, when thousands were killed and many more were injured and left without shelter, and Gyotoku believes a win could spur the authorities in the Himalayan nation to bring football back to the nation.

“Every country has problems and Nepal also has problems,” said Gyotoku. “Last year there was a big earthquake and 9,000 people died and the national stadium was damaged, so we can’t organise national team games in Nepal. The people are waiting to watch the matches in Nepal again.

“Now they are watching on their computers and I heard from the players and the staff that a lot of people are excited about this, and waiting for the game. I don’t know if we will win, but if we do many people will come and see us at the airport. This is important for football’s future in Nepal.

“When the under-23 team won at the South Asian Games in March, there was a lot of government support and I hope if we win tomorrow it will be the same for us. We need the money to fix the national stadium.”

Nepal qualified for the final with a penalty shootout win over Laos on Saturday evening, with goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu emerging as the hero in the spot kicks, but it was the performance of Laos striker Xaisongkham Champathong that is most prominent in the mind of Gyotoku.

Xaisongkham used his physical presence to score twice against the Nepalese and the Japanese coach is concerned Macau forward Nicholas Torrao, the tournament’s top scorer, could also cause problems for his back line on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it will be easy but we have a chance to win,” he said. “Their most important player is the striker, he’s the key player. In our last match against Laos I told the players to watch No. 23 (Xaisongkham), because he’s taller, but he scored two.

“So for this game Torrao is a dangerous player because he’s tall. If the defenders play well then we have a chance.

“We have no injuries, some small problems and of course the players are very tired because we didn’t have a match for five months before this competition, but that’s our problem. The players have high motivation and we want to go back to Nepal as champions.

“It is a good opportunity for us to be champion. This is the first AFC Solidarity Cup and we want to be the first champions.”