Print Edition - 2014-09-08 | Sports
Nepal hold mighty Uzbeks
- Sunar scores deep into second half injury time for a 1-1 stalemate in Group C opener
Sep 7, 2014-
A last gasp Kiran Sunar goal rescued a 1-1 draw for Nepal against the defending champions Uzbekistan in the AFC U-16 Championship Group C match in Bangkok on Sunday.
Nepal were staring at a certain defeat until Sunar scored the equaliser in the fourth minute of the second half injury time. Sunar headed in a freekick from Anjan Bista to cancel out the 54th minute Kuchimov Jonibek goal and keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the 2015 Fifa U-17 World Cup in Chile.
But pitted in a tough pool which also included Kuwait and DPR Korea, the road ahead is not easy. Given that the 51st ranked Uzbekistan are 115 places up the ladder than Nepal (166) in the Fifa ranking, the result was a remarkable achievement.
Top four teams from this event will earn tickets to the U-17 World Cup slated for October 17-November 8 in Chile. Two teams from each of the four groups will advance to the quarter-finals and the semi-finalists of the 16-team tournament will qualify for the U-17 World Cup.
Playing without the influential captain Bimal Gharti, who was serving a one match ban for the two bookings in the Qualifiers held in September-October, Nepal looked toothless up front. But the defenders did remarkable job holding keeping out the two-time U-17 World Cup participant in the first half. However, Uzbekistan took the lead through a spot kick in the 54th minute. A tackle from stand-in captain Ananta Tamang on Kenajev Islom resulted into Uzbekistan being awarded the spot kick. Jonibek step up to convert the penalty.
Nepal’s coach Bal Gopal Maharjan was critical of the refereeing decision. “It (penalty) was a poor decision and even our opponents were shocked to have earned it,” complained Maharjan. The Nepal coach was nevertheless happy that his team were able walk away with a point.
“We did not play well especially in the first 20 minutes but our boys raised their game as the games progressed. Going by today’s result, I am confident we will be able to advance to the knockout stage,” added Maharjan.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan coach Alexander Mochinov said that Nepal were lucky to have shared a point. “We fielded a strong team and had more scoring chances. On the contrary, they (Nepal) had fewer chances but took full advantage of it,” Mochinov summed up the match.
Nepal play their next group match against Kuwait on Tuesday before taking on DPR Korea on September 11.
Published: 08-09-2014 09:34