5 Oct 2009 - Coach Damber Singh Gurung's faith in his midfield proved unjustifiable as Nepal succumbed 1-0 loss to Lebanon on the first day of the Group “B” qualifiers of the AFC U-16 Cup at the Dashrath Stadium on Monday.
Ali Saad scored the only goal of the game in the first half when he latched on to a pass from Mohammad Markabawi, whose long ball from the Lebanese half easily beat the Nepali defenders, leaving Saad with just the keeper to beat, and Saad obliged.
The win gave Lebanon three points, tying them for first place with Tajikistan, who beat 10-man Bahrain 2-0 in the first match of the day. Iran, the favourites, are still to begin their campaign. Nepal will now have to win all their remaining games to qualify for the next round.
The match dashed Gurung's high expectations of his midfielders. But much more than that, it served as an eye opener for Lebanon team manager Abdul Baser Bakhti who had underestimated the Nepali team, comparing them to Bhutan and Sri Lanka.
Before the match Bakthi had predicted a one-sided victory for Lebanon, but little did he know that Nepali youngsters, who were psychically inferior to his players and sometimes looked like a bunch of kids playing against much older players, would put them under pressure for almost the entire match.
In the end Bakthi was full of praises for the Nepali squad and predicted a good senior Nepali team in the next five years. Lebanon Captain Moustapha Z. Al Adedeen also conceded that Nepal was a tough nut to crack. “Nepal was a good team but we scored the all-important goal.”
While Lebanon thanked their defenders and their luck for winning the match which could have easily gone the other way, Nepal Coach Damber Gurung blamed his midfielders for the loss and vowed to change the approach and players in the next game.
“We were always short of a good striker and today we had to pay the cost of not having a good poacher. My midfielders also could not give their best,” he said.
For the first 45 minutes, the match was a 50-50 affair despite Lebanon's goal. But the second half turned out to be unexpectedly tough for Lebanon as Nepal surged forward. The midfield failed to click but the wingers played their part, making goal-ward moves only to deliver the ball to their out-of-touch strikers. Though Nepal had enjoyed possession for most of the time, they hardly troubled the Lebanese keeper.
Tajikistan 2 -0 Bahrain
In the early match of the day, Tajikistan took the lead in the 27th minute through a free kick from Muhtojzoda Ibrohimi. He slotted home four minutes after his captain Rasulov Dilshood had missed a penalty awarded on Bahrain's Mubarak Saleem Saad's foul on Koridov Buzugmekhr.
Tajikistan got the breakthrough three minutes after Bahrain were reduced to 10 men. Abdulrah-man Ahmed received his marching orders in the 24th minute for a nasty challenge. Captain Rasulov Dilshod of Tajikistan, who had missed the penalty, amended for his mistake through a screamer from about 35 yards out in the 73rd minute.
source: The Kathmandu Post/ Image: nepalsportsphoto.com