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SL Police in the way of Tribhuvan Army FC's AFC Cup dream

Kathmandu: Nepal’s Tribhuvan Army FC are hopeful of extending their stint in the 2021 AFC Cup beyond Wednesday’s preliminary round fixture against Sri Lanka’s SL Police, according to team manager Bikash Malla.

Tribhuvan Army will host the sudden death clash at Kathmandu’s Dashrath Stadium, marking the first time in nearly a decade that a Nepalese club has featured in continental competition.

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Despite that long absence from the Asian stage at club level, the home side are confident of advancing to next week's final play-off round against India’s Bengaluru.

“Sri Lanka Police Sports Club is a good team,” Malla, a former Nepalese international goalkeeper, told local media.

“They also have foreign players. Our expectation is to move into the next round.”

Tribhuvan Army appear in this year’s AFC Cup after finishing second in the 2019-20 Nepalese domestic league, with veteran national team forward Nawayug Shrestha among their standout players in that campaign.

The club, who are coached by former national player Nabin Neupane, prepared for the challenge of SL Police by facing Kyrgyz Republic’s U23 national team in a friendly match last week, earning a creditable 0-0 result against the Central Asian side.

While Tribhuvan Army is solely made up of local talent, SL Police’s squad includes three Ghanaian players with Isaac Addevu, Prince Boadu and Evans Asante all registered for Rohan Thilak Alponsu’s side.

Teams from Sri Lanka have had a mixed record at this stage of the competition in recent years. Colombo SC thrashed Bhutan’s Transport United 9-2 on aggregate in 2019, but Defenders FC were eliminated on away goals after a 5-5 two-legged thriller against Paro FC, also of Bhutan, in early 2020.

The stadium will be open up to 50 per cent capacity, with the match to be played under lights.

Tribhuvan Army FC (NEP) v SL Police SC (SRI)
Dashrath Stadium, Kathmandu
Kick-off: 17:30 (UTC+5:45)

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