Nepal hold defending champions in draw


Dhaka, 05 Dec 2009 - Nepal´s hope of registering a victory over Maldives during the football match played at the Bangabandhu Stadium was dashed on Saturday. However, Bangladeshi referee Abdul Hanan Miron´s decision to declare Jumanu Rai´s goal as offside was not the only reason for Nepal to settle for a 1-1 draw against the defending champions Maldives.

Nepal deserved to win their first match of the Sixth South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship but the team missed lots of opportunities. Around 100 Nepali fans present at the stadium were disappointed when powerful shots of Bijay Gurung, Anil Gurung and Chetan Ghimire could not find the back of the net. However, Yogesh Shrestha´s ´Golden Debut´ at least saved Nepal from defeat.

Maldives took advantage of Nepal´s weak defense to net a goal after a depressing goalless first half. Ahmed Tariq scored the first goal with the help of a cross from Jamil Mohammad. Tariq utilized the opportunity to score a one-versus-one goal from the box in the 61st minute as he remained unchecked by the Nepali defenders.

Maldives seemed obvious to win the match after the goal as they had dominated the entire first half but Nepal didn´t delay in equalizing the score. Coach Krishna Thapa´s decision to replace Yogesh for Bijay was worthwhile as he helped score a goal in his debut match. Jumanu headed a pass from Yogesh into the net in the 69th minute. This was Jumanu´s seventh international goal and his third in the SAFF Championship.

Earlier, Bijay and Anil had missed an opportunity each to score in the first half. Bijay´s good shot missed the post by a little margin while Maldives´ goalkeeper Mohammad Imran saved a powerful shot by Anil. Anil made a mistake by not passing the ball to Chetan Ghimire as there were no defenders near the post.

Nepal were unexpectedly able to keep Maldives under pressure in the second half as Nepal created four good opportunities to score in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Chetan´s shot from Anjan´s pass missed narrowly in the beginning while his second attempt in the 52nd minute was blocked by Maldives´ defenders. Sandip Rai´s long shot went a few inches above the post. Nepal could not record a glorious victory as Anil Gurung´s powerful shot just before he was replaced by Santosh Sahukhala did not enter the net. But Yogesh´s debut helped Nepal put a brake on a series of defeats from Maldives since 1999.

Maldives had taken Nepal lightly as they had defeated Nepal 4-1 a year ago in their home ground. With this draw, Nepal were able to upset not only Maldives but other teams as well.

“We did not look at Nepal as a weak team but our players like Ali Ashfaque couldn´t perform well. The next match will tell which team is better,” said Maldives´ coach Istavan Urbanyi.

Nepal´s Rohit Chand was assigned to check Ali Ashfaque, who was a Asian Player of the Year 2008 nominee. Ashfaque couldn´t perform well as Rohit fulfilled his responsibility properly. Accepting the fact Urbanyi said, “Other players should have used the opportunity while Ashfaque was under strict marking, but our players couldn´t.”

Nepali coach Thapa was satisfied with the performance of the team but was disappointed with the result. “We should have won the match as the players had fared well, but the referee´s decision was unfair today,” he said. Thapa claimed that Jumanu´s second goal was not offside.

1 comment:

Sthapa said...

Kudos, to Jumanu Rai for saving the day for Nepal. He was a little unfortunate to have his winning goal canceled for off side by the umpire at the fag end of the match.
I congratulate the team for their excellent effort, guts, resilience and will-power.
By and large, the day belonged to Nepal as reports suggest.The boys played wholeheartedly and surprised
everyone by dominating the proceedings throughout.
On the other hand, Maldives, one of the best prepared teams for some reasons were not in their usual form and seemed subdued.
Perhaps, the weight of "Defending Champion" is impacting their overall performance.
Had our strikers not squandered a host of scoring chances it would have been a fantastic opener for us.
All along I have maintained that we cannot have the luxury to miss sitters or genuine scoring opportunities in vital matches.
To succeed and to keep the monkey off the back, we must find the net consistently, otherwise, we end up paying a heavy price.
Though we have started off with a decent result,there is an urgency to sharpen our attack and strikers, especially display clinical precision to score.
At the end of the day,goal score statistics may come into play, and decide who goes and not into the next stage.
Nepal is up against a very young talented Indian outfit.This encounter is extremely vital for our progress in the championship.
The matter of fact is that we cannot afford to throw away the match.
Team Nepal has to play aggressively with a very positive and forthright approach. We are well positioned to prevail over India but the reality is that action counts more than just words.
Eventually coach Krishna Thapa and the team must come into the match mentally and physically prepared. It is a deal maker situation for us.
I fully hope that Team Nepal comes flying off their block to triumph and confirm themselves a place in the last four.
Good luck.