5. Stronger discipline: With the onset of the U16 friendlies, there is no doubt that Nepal will refine their approach to winning key games by the end of summer. And as such, some of the things that coach Maharajan will learn will be imperative to how Nepal performs overall. For example, these could involve; making better use of impact-subs from players such as Bimal Gharti Magar, a sharper use of the ball from midfielders to forwards, and finally how to handle with national pressure. However, I suspect that the coach would be slightly hesitant to tinker with the winning formula (which had served Nepal well at the qualifiers). Nevertheless on a psychological level, a change in attitude and discipline will be almost a certain possibility with the boys.
4. An appetite for victory: Unlike most of the countries competing at the AFC U16 Championships, Nepal has never made a World Cup appearance. So with this, there is a certain hunger among the players to prove themselves to their coach and country that they can do it. As I can imagine, there will also be great anticipation for Bimal’s triumphant return from Europe. Mainly due to his teammate’s eagerness to learn from his experience and grow as better players.
3. Hemant Thapa Magar’s proving his worth: Hemant Magar is one of Nepal’s pivotal players, however he has been somewhat overshadowed by the stardom of Bimal Magar. Nevertheless, this tournament will effectively be Hermant’s (and the other players) moment to shine as the players aims to make a name for themselves in South Asian football with Bimal Magar.
2. A more clinical Bimal Gharti Magar: As Rene Koster (U16 Bangladesh Coach) mentioned last year, Bimal has a lot of work to do. And it was clear that there have been moments where Bimal could have made better use of the ball, but this comes with experience. Hopefully with the two European trials at FC Twente and RSC Anderlecht, Bimal will absorb himself with the playing style that is common in European football and enter the tournament as the clinical finisher that he is.
1. Better form: Alongside Bimal’s return from Europe (and the squad’s intense summer training), the side will be drastically different from what we witnessed last year. And if Nepal wins the planned friendlies, this will put the team in great form for autumn. For this small country, the success of the U16 team raises the spirits of the whole nation. So there is a certain drive within the players to strive harder than usual, especially since a World Cup appearance is at stake.
Yet, despite there being a number of big names in the tournament, we must also remember that Nepal will enter the AFC U16 Championships as the firm 2013 SAFF runner-ups, and the group winners of the qualifying stage. And so, there is good reason to believe that the young Nepalese side could go all the way towards the semi-finals. Though the only dark hole that threatens Nepal’s prospects is the noticeable lack of tournament experience at the AFC Championships. Indeed, this will be the 3rd time Nepal has competed in the tournament. However with the rapid development of football in Nepal, one cannot be too certain to rule Nepal out just yet!
Ash Chetri is a contributing writing at GoalNepal.com, for comments and questions you can reach him via twitter, @Ashtopher.