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Nepal: The Bangabandhu Cup triumph in the run up to the SAG should boost the team’s spirits. Forme national captain Raju Kaji Shakya is the coach of the team and expects the players to win nothing but the gold. Nepal football has progressd rapidly in the last few years and the squad, riding on the strength of Nawayug Shrestha, Anjan Bista and Bimal Gharti Magar, is expected to go the distance. Placed in the easy group of Bhutan and Bangladesh, it should not be tough for Nepal which won the titles in the inaugural edition in 1984 and 1993. The experienced trio of Biraj Maharjan, Navayug Shrestha and Bikram Lama should help make a serious bid for the title.

Bangladesh: An unpredictable combination, it can be a dangerous team on its day. Having pulled off many upsets, it has the capacity to rock the opponents. Defender Rezaul Karim, at 28, is the senior most member of the team along with midfielder Jamal Bhuyan and striker Nabib Newaj Jibon. The expectations from young striker Jewel Rana are high as Bangladesh looks forward to repeating its title wins of 1999 and 2010 when the Games were held last.

Sri Lanka: The expectations from the team are high but often it plays below potential. The defensive tactics don’t do justice to the team’s talent. It is a young side and looks up to young Zarwan Johar, who figured in the senior squad too. The experience of defenders Chaturanga Madushan and Asikumar Rahuman will be the main strength for the Sri Lankan squad, which relies on five players in the midfield. Striker Kavindu Ishan is worth watching. A second place in 2006 is the best the team has achieved.

India: The SAFF Championship title win was a big boost to the young Indian footballers and set up the base for the confidence ahead of the SAG. Players like Sandesh Jhingan and Aiborlang Khongjee, who hold the defence, are likely to be the key. Pritam Kotal and Prabir Das are the other names to watch out apart from midfielders Rowllin Borges and Pronay Halder in a 4-2-3-1 tactic that the team is expected to adopt. India’s three titles have come in 1985, 1987 and 1995.

Bhutan: It is one of the youngest members of the football fraternity and obviously lying in the bottom section but the small mountain nation nurtures big dreams. The 2018 World Cup qualifier win over Sri Lanka last year when Tshering Dorji scored the only goal of the match was a revelation of the team’s football talent which is drawn from five clubs that make up for the football structure. The best that Bhutan achieved in SAG was the semifinal spot in 2008.

Maldives: The Under 23 team for the South Asian Games mostly comprises players who had participated in the recently ended Bangabandhu Gold Cup in Bangladesh. The three senior players on the team are Ismail Easa, Ahmed Nashid and Ali Fasir.Coach Ricky Herbert has kept faith in maority of players who played in the Bangabandhu Cup. Mohamed Jazlan and Hussain Shareef are two goalkeepers with little experience even though the coach believes they could be the decisive factor along with striker Asadhulla Abdhullla. Ahmed Wasim is a new face in the squad.