Nepal can’t afford to take Timor Leste lightly: Koji

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Members of national football team during a training session in Kuching, Malaysia on Thursday. Photo Courtesy: ANFA

Kathmandu, November 5, 2016: Head coach of the Nepali national football team Gyotoku Koji has said that his team can’t afford to take Timor Leste lightly when the two nations will meet in the group stage match of the AFC Solidarity Cup at Negeri Stadium, Malaysia on Saturday. Having lost its first match of the tournament with the scoreline of 4-0 to Brunei on Thursday, Timor Leste is under pressure to win. However Nepal’s coach Koji clarified that Timor Leste’s result has not changed anything for Nepal.

“We cannot take Timor lightly as their first match against Brunei DS was difficult game in the waterlogged pitch. Moreover, the rain barred us from watching their real game. So their result does not matter us,” said Koji.

Nepal had defeated Timor Leste 2-1 and 5-0 in 2014 AFC World Cup qualifying matches held in Kathmandu.

Koji also pointed out that the team should kick off the newly launched Asian competition with a win so that they can get used to winning ways in the later stages. “We have to focus on our performance. We have to win both the matches and make a habit of winning,” added Koji.

Koji also said that the team’s early arrival to Kuching has been beneficial as it has helped them settle in the conditions as the pitches there are waterlogged most of the times due to constant rain.

The Nepali squad, which held two months training on the artificial pitch, is now training on natural pitch in humid environment. Head coach Koji said that he will make his game plan on the basis of the pitch and whether conditions. “Here we trained at natural ground and on the soggy field. So, my plan will depend on the weather condition,” Koji concluded.

Similarly, Koji’s counterpart Fabio Da Silva, head coach of Timor Leste, also expressed his concern over weather and expected no rain on the match day. Silva said that due to the wet pitch his young players couldn’t display their actual game.

“We play possession-based football, but due to the wet ground we were forced to play long balls against Brunei, which is not our playing style,” Silva added.

He also said that he was aware about the difficult game against Nepal but hoped for positive result. “We know the match against Nepal is difficult. But we will concentrate in our game and try to produce result in our favor,” said Silva, whose side needs a win to remain in contention in the tournament.

Nepal’s captain Anil Gurung said that his team is not taking Timor Leste as a weak opponent. “After seeing their first match, we came to the conclusion that they have improved technically and physically,” said Anil, who has won 46 caps for the national team.

Anil also said that the Nepali team has the experience of playing on wet ground so the players can utilize the experience in Kuching.  “The waterlogged condition here demands power and physical game. We have experience of playing in such condition back home and as the team is full of young players we can control the game,” added Anil.

Regarding the fitness of the team, defender Rajin Dhimal and forward Ranjan Bista skipped training because of hamstring strain and minor flu respectively and are likely to be rested for the Saturday’s match.

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