By a Staff Reporter
Kathmandu – The first edition of the KP Oli Cup, a knock-out-based football tournament with eight competing teams, will start tomorrow at ANFA Complex in Satdobato, Kathmandu.
The captains of all the participating teams expressed their confidence and their desire to win the title during the pre-match press conference on Wednesday. The tournament’s inaugural match will be played between Nepal Police Club and Satdobato Youth Club. The remaining quarterfinal matches will see Tribhuvan Army Football Club vs. New Road Team, Machhindra FC vs. Church Boys United FC, and KP Oli FC vs. Jawalakhel Youth Club.
Ram Wajee, the captain of the Nepal Police Club, expressed his belief that his team would put up a tough fight. “We have been preparing focusing on both the league and the current tournament. As always, we have a young team, and our preparation is going well,” stated Ram. “Tournament like this before the league serves as a booster,” he added.
On the other hand, the newly appointed skipper of SYC Sudeep Gurung stated that his team is ready for the tournament. “We have formed a team full of young talents for this season. Everyone on the team is putting in their maximum effort. We consider all teams as equally competitive, which inspires us to work even harder. Winning and losing are both part of the game. After this tournament, we have an ‘A’ Division League, and we will prepare for it thoroughly,” said Sudeep.
Tribhuvan Army Football Club (TAFC) will take on New Road Team (NRT) in the second quarter-final of the tournament. Bharat Khawas, the skipper of TAFC, is likely to miss the first match due to an injury. “We train for 12 months, and the Army team is always prepared for any tournament. My team is physically and mentally fit, but I sustained a minor injury, which may restrict me from playing in the first match,” Bharat explained. “This tournament provides an opportunity for us to prepare for the upcoming league, which is positive. We will strive to win the trophy, but if we don’t, we can identify our weaknesses and improve them before the league,” he concluded.
Bikram Dhimal, the captain of the New Road Team, expressed nervousness about facing the Army who trains throughout the year. “Army trains for the whole year, but we form a team and train for only a few months. We have been preparing for one and a half months lately. We have a well-balanced team and strengthened by the addition of foreign players.,” mentioned Bikram.
Machhindra FC and Church Boys United FC, who met each other in the quarterfinals of the Bhadrapur Jhapa Gold Cup today, will also compete in the quarterfinals of the KP Oli Cup. MFC advanced to the semifinal beating CBU 2-1. MFC now needs to travel to Kathmandu to compete in KP Oli Cup and return back to Jhapa to play the semi-final of the Bhadrapur Gold Cup.
According to Kiran Maharjan, the Secretary of MFC, the club will face financial setbacks due to the tight travel schedule. “The hectic travel schedule not only impacts the club’s finances but also raises the possibility of player injuries. We are still undecided whether to travel by road or air,” he stated. Despite the club’s failure to prioritize the tournaments and its decision to participate in both, the Secretary criticized the organizers for scheduling the tournaments on overlapping dates.
CBU’s Media Manager Abiskar Bikram Rai explained that the club’s participation in the gold cups is part of their preparation. “We have been participating in gold cups recently, which can be considered as preparation. We also had a week-long closed camp in Jhapa,” clarified Abiskar.
In the final quarter-final of the tournament, KP Oli FC, the organizers themselves, will face off against Jawalakhel Youth Club (JYC). Three Star Club’s squad will represent KP Oli FC, with Meghraj KC, Three Star’s coach, leading the team and Bikram Lama as the captain. When asked about Three Star representing the organizers, Bikram stated, “We are players and our job is to play no matter what team it is. We will play with a focus on the spirit and safety of the game.” The team comprises of young and experienced players, including foreigners Peter Segun and Ajayi Martins, who are well-known in Nepali Football. Bikram further added that they have a strong team and will certainly strive for victory.
Bikram believes that pre-season tournaments are crucial in helping players identify their mistakes and rectify them. “Pre-season tournaments provide a platform for players to assess themselves. We can determine our strengths and weaknesses, and work on areas that need improvement. These tournaments serve as a preparation for the league,” Bikram explained.
In addition, Simanta Thapa, the newly appointed captain of Jawalakhel Youth Club (JYC), expressed that their morale is high. “We have been performing well in the recent gold cups, which has boosted our confidence. We will put forth our best effort in this tournament too,” said Simanta.
The National Youth Federation is organizing KP Oli Cup National Football Tournament from February 23 to 28 where the champions will purse NRs. 1 Million and the runners-up will receive NRs. 5 Lakhs. Likewise, the Most Valuable Player of the tournament will be rewarded with NRs. 1 Lakh. Moreover, the best goalkeeper, the best goal scorer, and the emerging player will earn NRs. 50 thousand each.
Furthermore, the organizers will award NRs. 25,000 to the winning team of each match and 15,000 rupees to the player of the match.