Defensive lapse costs Nepal

  • saff championship
  • Lose 1-0 to Sri Lanka denting semi-finals hopes
  • Rifnas scores 95th minute winner
- Himesh Bajracharya, Trivandrum

Dec 24, 2015-

Nepal paid price for a poor defence as they crashed to a 1-0 defeat against Sri Lanka in their opening encounter of the Saff Championship here at the Trivandrum International Stadium in Kerala, India on Wednesday.

The loss meant Nepal will now have to go through a tough road if they are to qualify for the semi-finals from a three-team Group ‘A’. Nepal play their next match against regional giants India on December 27 where even a draw could see them crash out from group stage. Sri Lanka will play India on Friday.

Nepal coach Patrick Aussems said his team was unfortunate not to close out the game. “We played well in the beginning but couldn’t maintain it throughout. I congratulate Sri Lanka for the victory but they played negative football,” said a dejected Aussems who added his next plans would come after the India-Sri Lanka clash.

Nepal dominated the game but a 95th minute strike from Rifnas Mohammed handed Sri Lanka the victory. Rifnas’ strike was only the second notable attack in the game for Sri Lanka. In the last minute of the second half added-on time, defender Biraj Maharjan, instead of making a clearance, chose to chest-control a long ball inside his own area allowing Mohammed Izzadeen to dispossess the stand-in skipper and feed it to unmarked Rifnas. The striker made no mistake making a cool finish to leave the Nepali camp stunned.

Nepal now have gone 11 matches without scoring and their win drought also continues with Wednesday’s result. Nepal have not scored after Jumanu Rai struck during the 2013 Saff Championship group stage game against India in Kathmandu.

Nepal made a bright start when Bimal Gharti Magar set Rohit Chand for a free header inside the area but an alert Sri Lanka goalie Sujan Perera made a diving save. Nepal were awarded a freekick after Gharti Magar was brought down just outside the area in the 23rd minute. Heman Gurung then launched a powerful shot straight into the hands of Perera and Anjan Bista’s header in the rebound went begging.

Gharti Magar was in hand to put Nepal ahead with Anil Gurung crossing for the U-19 striker close to the goal mouth but he failed to connect the ball. Goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong kept Sri Lanka at bay when he made a beautiful save to deny a dipping freekick from Johar Mohammed Zarwan.

Sri Lankan coach Sampath Perera said the victory has laid them a strong foundation to reach the semi-finals. “Our plans worked today. We knew that Nepal were technically strong, so we had to stop them,” said Perera adding luck favoured his side with a last gasp goal.

Published: 24-12-2015 10:00

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