Group ‘B’ champions and one of the favourites to lift the title, Maldives take on Nepal in the second semi-final of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in Dhaka today.
The winner of the match will take on Bahrain Under-23, who won the first semi-final against hosts Bangladesh on Monday, in the final of the competition on January 22 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
The SAFF Suzuki Cup semi-finalists, Maldives booked their place in the last four of the competition with two straight victories over Cambodia and Bangladesh Under-23 team and a draw against Bahrain Under-23s in their last group match.
On the other hand, Nepal reached to the semi-finals as Group ‘A’ runners-up with a win over Sri Lanka and two draws against Bangladesh and Malaysia XI Felda United.
Looking into today’s knockout game, the Maldivians will mostly rely on the form of their forward troika — Easa Ismail, Nashid Ahmed and Imaaz Ahmed — who have been more effective compared to the others in the tournament.
The islanders have scored six goals and conceded three times in the competition.
Maldives’ coach Ricky Herbert, however, believes that winning the match will not be an easy task for his charges.
‘The match is going to be a tough and interesting one and we will probably do well against Nepal,’ said the New Zealander.
Meanwhile, Nepal’s back four have been their strongest point in the group stage as the Himalayans are yet to concede a single goal in the tournament.
Despite the fact, Nepal coach Bal Gopal Maharajan thinks Maldives are the favourites for today’s match and also thinks that their forward line up must improve if they want to end up with a win.
‘It is great for us that we did not concede any goals in the group stage matches but we need to improve the attacking third against Maldives, who are technically better with some fast players,’ said the Nepalese coach.
-With New Age input