Nepal crash at first hurdle

  • 2018 fifa world cup qualifiers
  • Play a goalless draw against India in second leg
  • Visitors advance 2-0 on aggregate
- Pratichya Dulal, Kathmandu
Nepal crash at first hurdle

Mar 17, 2015-

Nepal crashed out of the first round of the 2018 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers after a goalless draw in the second leg, losing 2-0 on aggregate at the Dashrath Stadium on Tuesday.

After losing the first leg 2-0 in Guwahati on March 12 where striker Sunil Chhetri had scored both goals, Nepal needed at least a three-goal margin win or a 2-0 victory that would have decided the qualifying team through tie-breakers. But despite putting a spirited performance Nepal failed to score a single goal.

Nepal have now gone eight international matches without scoring after a rare 2-1 victory over India in the Saff Championship on September 5, 2013. Nepal then lost the Saff Championship semi-finals 1-0 to Afghanistan to begin their barren run. Thereafter, Nepal lost to India (2-0), Yemen (2-0), Philippines (3-0), Indonesia (2-0) and Philippines (3-0).

The only bright spot for Nepal from Tuesday’s result was that they have put an end to their almost two-year losing streak. Desperate to score, coach Jack Stefanowski used all five strikers but to no avail. Stefanowski, however, put all the blame on luck. “The boys put on a good performance but luck deserted us,” said the Polish-born-American coach. Skipper Sagar Thapa said: “We played well but we were unfortunate not to score.”

Stefanowski started with three forwards—Bimal Gharti Magar, Bharat Khawas and Santosh Sahukhala—who managed to trouble the Indian defense in the first half but always lacked a finishing touch. After Sandip Rai’s freekick went above the bar, Khawas wasted the first

real chance when the unmarked striker applied a feeble shot despite getting enough time and space in the ninth minute.

Khawas was then denied by India goalkeeper Subrata Paul two minutes after the break. Sahukhala also missed a sitter in the 55th minute when Rai fed him at the goalmouth with the striker failing to connect the ball. He was then promptly replaced by Anil Gurung.

The frustration continued for Nepal, and particularly Khawas whose side volley on a looping freekick from Rai hit the upright from a close range in the 69th minute. Paul also denied Gharti Magar in a one-on-one situation.

India appeared content to preserve their first leg 2-0 lead with their only chance coming in the 77th minute when Sunil Chhetri blasted a shot that just went wide.  India coach Stephen Constantine said: “We came here to win but the surface didn’t help us. This ground is not fit to host international matches,” said the former Nepali coach.

Published: 18-03-2015 08:45

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