Nepal stumble yet again in semis


Sep 13, 2018-

Nepal failed to cross the semi-final hurdle once again in the SAFF Championship football tournament as they lost 3-0 to Maldives at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Wednesday.

It was the fifth time that Nepal have crashed out at this stage of the prestigious football tournament of the South Asian region. It was the seventh meeting between the teams in the SAFF Championship. Nepal have never defeated Maldives, losing five games and two others have ended in draws.

After Maldives took an early ninth minute lead, Nepal conceded two more late goals in three minutes, both coming from Ibrahim Hassan Waheed who captalised on defensive errors to score. The match was suspended for 27 minutes due to lightning and thunderstorm.

Nepal controlled the ball possession after the first half but failed to break the stubborn defense and watchful Maldives goalkeeper Mohamed Faisal. Maldives, who came into match without scoring a single goal, dominated the early periods. They broke their goal drought with a freekick from the edge of the zone. Maldives skipper Akram Abdul Ghanee’s strike bounced at the slippery surface in the area and skidded into the nets.

In the 13th Nepal custodian Kiran Chemjong was called into action, forcing for a diving save to deny Ghanee. The first notable Nepali move came in the 37th minute but the stand-in-skipper Bharat Khawas agonisingly failed to connect a perfect Bimal Gharti Magar cross at the goalmouth before it was cleared by Maldives defender Hussain Siaffu Yoosuf. Two minutes later Khawas, who wore captain’s armband in the absence of rested Biraj Maharjan, squandered a sitter ending up firing wide from close range.

Nepal survived a scare four minutes after the restart as custodian Chemjong prevented forward Hassan Naiz strike in counter attack. Nepal coach Bal Gopal Maharjan made two changes after the hour mark, bringing in striker Nawayug Shrestha and Anjan Bista in place of Nirajan Khadka and Khawas. He replaced defender Suman Aryal with midfielder Bishal Rai in the 75th minute. But the change did not make any significant impact.

Nepal threatened Maldives in the 62nd minute only for Maldives goalie Faisal to gather a Gharti Magar flicked header. Six minutes later Sunil Bal fired above the bar and in the 75th Shrestha wasted another chance as he failed to apply a final touch to Rohit Chand cross.  

Waheed doubled the advantage in the 85th as defender Ananta Tamang made a poor clearance inside the crowded area. The ball landed at Waheed, who quickly applied a scorcher to send the ball past Chemjong. He ensured the victory in the 87th with third goal as he again capitalised on poor defending by Aditya Chaudhary. Nepal coach Maharjan said that the team failed to execute its plans and the players were also well below their potential.

“We did not perform to out potential. Neither luck nor the weather favoured us,” Maharjan said. “Credits to them (Maldives) as some of their players came up with exceptional performance.”

Published: 13-09-2018 08:46

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