Scouting the Opponent: Nepal
When: March 8th, 2012
Kickoff: 11:15 GMT
Where: Dasarath Rangasala Stadium, Kathmandu, Nepal
FIFA Rank: 152nd (26th in AFC)
Nepal 0:0 Palestine (2010 Challenge Cup Qualifiers)
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
Background: This is Nepal's third participation in the Challenge Cup finals having missed out only on the 2010 edition after draws with Palestine and Kyrgyzstan did them in. Like Palestine, their best finish came in the inaugural edition of the tournament courtesy of an improbable semifinal finish. The Gorkhalis have been under the command of Graham Roberts since 2011 and have since become a more consistent outfit especially against fellow South Asian sides. Upsets in the SAFF Championship were secured in large part due to Roberts stressing the fundamentals- defending and set piece opportunities. Nepal's problems in front of goal (only multi-goal games in 2011 came against Bhutan and Timor Leste) means that the Nepalis will have to lean heavily on their defence if they want to make the semifinals.
Challenge Cup Squad: Graham Roberts has called up a squad of 20 players all of whom- save for Rohit Chand- ply their trade in Nepal's brilliantly named Martyr's Memorial Red Bull A Division League.
Goalkeepers: Kiran Chemzong (MTSC), Bikash Malla (Nepal Army Club), Ritesh Thapa (NPC)
Defenders: Sagar Thapa (YHSC), Sandip Rai (LH MMC), Rohit Chand (HAL/India), Robin Shrestha (NPC), Biraj Maharjan (MTSC), Sabindra Shrestha (LH MMC), Dipak Bhushal (LH MMC), Jitendra Karki (NRT)
Midfielders: Raju Tamang (Nepal Army Club), Nirajan Khadka (LH MMC), Bhola Silwal (NPC), Tanka Basnet (Nepal Army Club),
Forwards : Jumanu Rai (NPC), Santosh Sahukhala (LH MMC), Anil Gurung (LH MMC), Ganesh Lawati (APF), Bharat Khawas (NPC)
Key Player: Graham Roberts is on the record as saying it is Anil Gurung so it's probably best to take his word for it. With 7 goals in 19 international appearances Gurung will need to be on his game if Nepal are to stand any chance of progressing to the knockout stage.