Nepal crash out after Qatar defeat

- PRAJWAL OLI, Kathmandu

Mar 26, 2019-

Nepal made an early exit from the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifier as they suffered second successive defeat going down 5-0 against hosts Qatar at the Doha Sports City in Qatar on Sunday.

Nepal had also lost 1-0 to Oman in their first Group ‘A’ match on Friday in the four-team group. In another match, Oman beat Afghanistan 2-1. The outcome meant hosts Qatar and Oman occupy top positions with six points each. Nepal and Afghanistan, who lost to Qatar 2-0 in their opening match, are pointless. The two eliminated teams will now play an inconsequential last group game on Tuesday.

Nepal had never moved beyond the Qualifier stage of the biennial tournament which started in 2012. The win over South Asian rival Bangladesh during the 2012 Qualifier is the best result Nepal ever achieved. Nepal had registered 4-1 win over Bangladesh then with two goals from Sujal Shrestha and one each from Bharat Khawas and Jagjeet Shrestha. Nepal had finished fourth in the five team group ahead of Bangladesh with three points. Nepal had also scored during their 4-2 defeat against Uzbekistan. Anil Ojha and Sujal Shrestha were the scorers for Nepal. The Qualifier was held in June 2012.

Since then Nepal has played in all three editions of the Qualifier. In the last two editions, they finished bottom of the table without scoring a single goal. In the 2015 edition in Tehran, Nepal were drawn in Group ‘C’ with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Palestine and Afghanistan. They conceded a total of 17 goals in four matches. Nepal were drawn in Group ‘D’ with hosts UAE, Uzbekistan and Lebanon in the third edition in 2017.

On Sunday, Abdullah Abdul Salam and Bassam Husham scored two goals apiece while the another goal came courtesy an own goal from Nepal defender Dinesh Rajbanshi. Salam opened the scoring in the 26th through penalty for Qatar, who are placed 91 spots ahead of Nepal in the senior men’s ranking in comparison. Nepal are in 161st position in Fifa rankings. The mighty hosts added four other goals after the break.

Husham made it 2-0 in the 54th before Rajbanshi netted an own goal as Qatar went 3-0 up during an hour mark. Husham added his second goal in the 80th minute before Salam sealed victory scoring in the injury time. Nepal coach Bal Gopal Maharjan had already surrendered hopes of pulling off a ‘miracle’ in the Qualifier even before the event started, saying their opponents were way ahead in terms of quality. “But I was not expecting to lose by a big margin. We played well in the first half but failed to give continuity to that momentum in the latter half,” said Maharjan.

Published: 26-03-2019 21:00

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