The coach counts on the experience of his tight-knit squad to cause an upset against the Blues

The Nepal Army club or Tribhuwan Army FC as it is commonly known have touched down in Bambolim and have been going through their paces in the city. The Nepalese club are set to face the 2016 AFC Cup finalists Bengaluru FC at the GMC Stadium in the Preliminary Round 2 match for qualifying for the AFC Cup 2021 playoff round. They are making their maiden appearance in the competition and their coach Nabin Neupane was flanked by his forward Nawayug Shreshta to take questions from the media ahead of the big game tomorrow.

“Our preparation has been very good. From the beginning, we have been preparing for this tournament. We won the previous match (against Sri Lanka Police, but this one will be very tough against Bengaluru FC. Their level of the game is very high, but we are ready for the match and all the players are in good condition,” said an upbeat Neupane ahead of the game.

TAFC forward Nawayug Shreshta had a great start to the tournament, as he notched up a brace in his side’s thumping victory against Sri Lanka Police in the previous round. He reiterated his coach’s statement on the game, saying, “It’s very tough for us since they have a very good team. But, we have to win it anyhow and don’t have a choice. To play against such a good team is hard and we are the underdogs. So, we have to focus on our defence and try to score from the chances we get.”

Speaking further on the difficulty of facing Bengaluru FC, the coach replied, “We saw their games in the ISL. They are a top side and we have to give a good fight against them. We have a fully fit squad and we will be giving our 100% for tomorrow’s game. Every player is excited to play and we have to win this match. This is our first time playing in this competition and against Bengaluru FC. We have prepared well and they are a very tough side. The shape of the team is very good. They have good foreign players, but we have our own, who are in good shape and are capable of giving a fight.”

For tomorrow’s game Neupane admitted to going in with a rather reactive approach rather than the attacking style that they displayed in the previous game against Sri Lanka Police. Speaking on his potential tactics, Neupane replied, “They have a good attacking side. Probably, we will be playing a compact defence and hit them on the counter-attack. If we have a few chances in the game, we have to convert those and we wouldn’t want to concede a goal.”

“For that match (against SL Police), we played very well. But, it won’t be enough to play like that against Bengaluru FC, as they would be certainly of a higher level. We played a very attack-minded, pressing game against Sri Lanka Police, but against Bengaluru, we would be mostly playing a counter-attacking game,” maintained Neupane.

Tribhuwan Army FC will be without any foreign players and that could prove to be a disadvantage when they take to the pitch against Bengaluru FC, who have a roster of experienced foreigners. When asked about this situation, Neupane expressed belief in his side’s cohesion and work-rate.

“We have to understand each player as we play together and that is our advantage. We train all 12 months and so we have a great fitness level within the squad. Before the game against SL Police, we also played against the Krygyzstan U-23 Olympic team and so the players have the experience of facing foreign players and we have an experienced squad,” said Neupane before signing off.

Bengaluru FC will host Tribhuwan Army FC in the Preliminary Round 2 fixture tomorrow at the GMC Bambolim Stadium at 7:30 PM IST.

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