By Sushil Thapa, Fairfax, VA
The stake is very high for the national football team of Nepal as they gear up for the all-important away fixture against Tajikistan in the 2019 Asian Football Confederation Asia Cup qualifiers.
Things are looking increasingly grim for Nepal at the moment. Apparently, players are under enormous pressure to shrug off their lethargy, find some kind of form, perform well and deliver the desired result, but that is easier said and done.
The math is straight and simple. A win is a must for Japanese Coach Koji Gyotoku boys who are languishing at the bottom of the group as the situation demands.
They find themselves in a make or break situation and are desperate to salvage some pride against host Tajikistan.
One thing is very clear, they cannot afford to concede the match. Otherwise, they exit the competition. Already they have paid a heavy price for their mediocrity and failure to capitalize home advantages against Yemen and Tajikistan.
Although Team Nepal is in a relatively easy group and pitted against opponents(evenly matched) of a similar caliber in terms of playing standards, they have utterly failed to show competitiveness and make a fight of it.
What they badly lack is a big game pedigree. So far they have had a hugely rough and tumble run in the competition.
Admittedly, they have not played anywhere to their potential and unable to work their way back into the competition.