Kathmandu March, 5 - Youthful Nepal ‘Blue’ went down 2-3 in the inaugural match of the Prime Minister Cup Invitational Football Tournament here at the Dasharath Stadium today. EB Channa, Chathura Gunaratne and skipper Chathurn Maduranga scored for the visitors while Santosh Sahukhala and substitiute Santosh Nepali found the net for the second string home team.
Lack of coordination among the senior and the junior players saw Sri Lanka score twice in the first half. It was the home side, however, to take the lead early in the seventh minute when frontman Yugal Kishore Rai cleverly passed the ball to Sahukhala who lobbed over the advancing Sri Lankan goalkeeper HM Kumara. Sri Lanka level the scores from a free kick in the 25th minute when Channa’s strike from the edge of the box took a lucky deflection from the Nepali wall leaving goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu stranded. Three minutes later, the visitors struck another goal when Gunaratne headed home on a pass from skipper Maduranga.
Sahukhala squandered the equalising opportunity in the 32nd minute shooting off target on a solitary encounter with Sri Lankan goalie before heading wide a minute later on a corner kick from Nepal Police midfielder Bhola Silwal. Sri Lanka extended their lead in the 69th minute largerly to the poor defensive blunder. First Nepali keeper Limbu missed the straight forward ball leaving the ball to roll behind him and in an attempt to clear the ball again defender Noor Raj Kafle struck straight to the Sri Lankan skipper’s back which rebounded into the nets. Second half substituteSantosh Nepali reduced the deficit in the 73rd minute, heading in a 30-yard free kick fromDipak Bhusal.
The hosts came agonisingly close to levelling the scores but were unlucky when Yugal Kishore Rai’s header rebounded off the inner crossbar in the second half injury time. Nepal ‘Blue’ coach Baiju Kapali blamed the midfield for the defeat. “Lack of coordination and miss passes in the first half cost us dear,” said Kapali. Captain Basanta Gauchan also saw lack of proper coordination among the senior and junior players.
Sri Lankan skipper Maduranga said they found very hard to adjust to the conditions here which was reflected in their game. “We are not used to play in such a cold weather,” said Maduranga. “They (Nepal) are energetic young side and played very well,” added the Sri Lankan skipper. Nepal ‘Blub’ will play their next Group ‘A’ match against JW Team of Thailand on March 7 while Sri Lanka will take the same Thai team on March 9.Earlier, Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ inaugurated the six-team tournament, organised by Republic Sports Federation of Nepal under the technical support of ANFA.