Nepal salvage draw against Philippines

  • AFC Asian Cup qualifiers
- Post Report, Lalitpur

Nov 15, 2017-

Spirited Nepal held the Philippines to a goalless draw in the 2019 Asian Cup qualifying match here at the Anfa Complex grounds in Satdobato on Tuesday.

The result meant Philippines’ hopes of making to the finals was put on hold until their last game against Tajikistan in March next year. Philippines still lead the Group ‘F’ with nine points, while already eliminated Nepal have two. 

Nepal had also settled for a goalless draw against Yemen in June. Nepal are bottom of the table with two points and will travel to Doha to Yemen in the return leg in March next year. With top two teams from each of the six pools to qualify for the finals in the UAE, Yemen and Tajikistan are also still in the race to grab their opportunities. With just one match left, Yemen are second in the standings with seven points, the same as the third-placed Tajikistan. 

Nepal’s Japanese coach Gyotoku Koji said his team got what they came for. “It was definitely one of the best performance of our Qualifying campaign. We gave a similar performance during our draw against Yemen,” said Koji. 

Philippines coach Thomas Dooley said he was disappointed for not being able to secure qualification with victory on Tuesday. “We miss out today and now have to wait for the final round match to complete the job,” added Dooley. Philippines skipper said: “It was disappointing, we have to regroup and try to seal qualification in the last match.”

Both the teams made a slow start with Philippines goalkeeper Neil Leonard Etheridge called into action in the 17th minute when Sujal Shrestha shot straight into the custodian’s hand. Philippines reacted with a chance of their own three minutes later as Carlos De Murga beat his marker to head just over the bar. Simone Rota also missed a free header in a sublime pass from captain Philip James Younghusband in 29th minute. Rohit Chand kept the score goalless blocking a goal-bound Younghusband shot in the 32nd minute before Mike Ott missed a sitter three minutes later, shooting straight into the grateful hands of Nepal custodian Kiran Chemjong.

The visiting team survived a big scare in the 55th minute when a needless dribbling from Etheridge allowed Anjan Bista to almost steal the possession inside the area. Luckily Etheridge somehow scrambled the ball away to safety. Philippines threatened twice in quick succession, first Simone Rota unleashing a 30-yard shot that Chemjong blocked before Younghus-band fired off target in the ensuing rebound.

Nepal got a reprieve in the 70th minute as Ananta Tamang dispossessed Mike Ott in the area just as the forward was preparing to score past Chemjong. In a frantic exchanges late on, Nawayug Shrestha shot was denied by extended legs of Dennis Villanueva before Bimal made a wide lunge on a rebound as Philippines survived the nervous last moments. 

Published: 15-11-2017 08:51

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