KATHMANDU, April 30: Aiming to get entry into the final rounds of the AFC Presidents Cup, national champion Laxmi Hyundai Manang Marshyangdi Club (MMC) will kick start its AFC President´s Cup group C Qualifiers campaign taking on Svarieng FC, the Cambodian champion on Thursday in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia.
It will be the first time the two sides will be locking horns in the last edition of the tournament. Top two teams, in the three team groups including home side Erchim FC, will qualify for the final rounds of the inter-county club tournament that features third tier league champions of the Asian Football Confederation.
As the group consists of only three groups, victory in the first match is likely to strengthen the team´s bid for next rounds. But the defeat or draw is likely to put pressure on team´s next round dream.
MMC studded with seven Nepali international has aimed to make the last edition a historic one. “We are all set to make a place in the final rounds and we also have balanced team, thus we are capable of it,” MMC skipper Sagar Thapa said before the team´s departure to Mongolia.
Sagar´s claim of balanced side could be strengthened by the signing of defenders Biraj Maharjan and Deepak Bhusal to strengthen its defense line-up. Similarly, it has included Birendra Bahadur Chand and Bimal Gurmachhane as reserve goalkeepers.
This is the second time MMC is competing in the event after 2006. On the occasion, MMC had crashed out from the group rounds. From the current squad, Sagar and coach Nabin Neupane were the members of the team then.
Nabin is looking after the team for the first time after he was handed a year ban by ANFA for unsporting behavior during MMC´s league campaign.
Judging his stint in Mongolia as the most important phase of his career, Nabin said the experience would add a new dimension to his game.
“I am in the most important juncture of my career. My career could take a new turn depending on outcome in Mongolia,” he said. “This is challenge as well as opportunity for me.”
Besides this, Sagar´s hope of beating Svarieng is built upon the result Nepal achieved against Cambodian national team during 2008 AFC Challenge Cup. O the occasion Nepal had defeated Cambodia 1-0.