Defending champion Nepal, still unbeaten in the tournament, takes on arch rival India in the first semifinal of the Under-14 Girls’ Regional Football Championship at the Dasharath Stadium on Friday.
High flying Islamic Republic of Iran will face Bangladesh later in the day in the second semifinal.
Continuing its stellar performance and unbeaten streak from the previous year, Nepal entered the last four-stage as the group A winner with nine points.
It opened its campaign with a hard-fought 3-2 victory against Iran, before thrashing Maldives 10-0 and Sri Lanka 8-0.
Friday’s opponents India, also unbeaten, has registered a 1-1 stalemate against Bangladesh in its second fixture. India has four points from two matches and entered semis as the group B runner-up.
India began its campaign registering a resounding 12-0 win over Bhutan.
Nepal coach Kishore KC had said that the match against India would be an evenly contested affair but said that he was optimistic about the team’s chances of retaining the championship after the match against Sri Lanka.
“The journey so far has been very straightforward for the team. It will be more competitive from this stage. The spirit of my players is extremely high,” KC said.
“We will try extremely hard to retain the title. We have saved our energy for the match against India. We will be coming out with all out might.”
During a pre-tournament press conference, Indian coach Indian coach Maymol Nedugadan Rockya said that her team had come to Nepal with only one goal: winning the competition.
“We came here with our eyes fixed on the title. In our 45-day training camp, my team has improved a lot. Nepal is the toughest opponent and we are playing at their home. But we cannot afford to lose,” she said.
The encounter between Iran and Bangladesh is also expected to be a highly competitive affair as both have performed similarly during the tournament.
Iran thumped Sri Lanka 11-1 in its second match and outclassed Maldives 18-0. On the other hand, Bangladesh battered Bhutan 16-0.