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Nepal is set to face Iraq in an International Friendly as part of the preparation for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers to be held in three weeks.
Nepal under new head coach Abdullah Almutairi have made drastic change in the squad with 13 changes from previous squad. Only 10 players from the team that won Three Nations Cup in Nepal have been able to keep their places.
Army trio of Forward Nawayug Shrestha, Midfilelder Santosh Tamang and Defender Bikash Khawas made their comeback into the squad. Pujan Uperkoti also returned into the senior fold after missing out Three Nations Cup due to injury in the camp. Forward Ashish Lama made his return with his teammate Suman Lama. Defender Suman Aryal also returned from injury.
Goalkeeper Bishal Sunar, Defender Gautam Shrestha, Midfielder Kamal Thapa, Manish Dangi, Suraj Thakuri and Ayush Ghalan cemented their place for the first time. Bishal was included in close camp for Three Nations Cup but failed to make the final cut.
Overall, Almutairi made 13 changes from the squad that won Three Nations Cup in Nepal in March. Former Captain Biraj Maharjan retired from international football while Sujal Shrestha did not play NSL due to injury. None of the players from NSL champion Kathmandu RayZRs made the preliminary list.
Skipper and goalkeeper Bikesh Kuthu, Tej Tamang, Sanjok Rai, Tshring Gurung and Tridev Gurung all were part of title winning team in Three Nations Cup but failed to make 32 men preliminary list. Also missing from the final squad are Ajit Bhandari, Bharat Khawas, Ranjit Dhimal, Darshan Gurung, Nishan Khadka and Ravi Paswan.
Nepal is scheduled to play a friendly against Iraq on May 29. Following the friendly the team will play second round of World Cup Qualifiers against Chinese Taipei on June 3, against Jordan on June 7 and against Australia on June 11 in Kuwait.
Final squad: Kiran Kumar Limbu (GK), Deep Karki (GK), Bishal Sunar (GK), Ananta Tamang, Gautam Shrestha, Suman Aryal, Abhishek Rijal, Bishal Rai, Sunil Bal, Aashish Lama, Pujan Uparkoti, Arik Bista, Suman Lama, Anjan Bista, Manish Dangi, Santosh Tamang, Nawayug Shrestha, Ayush Ghalan, Suraj Jeu Thakuri, Kamal Thapa, Rohit Chand, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Bikash Khawas