Nepal's fate hangs in balance


Dhaka, 9 Dec 2009 - Nepal now only have slim chances of making it to the semifinal round of the Sixth SAFF Championship. However, nothing is impossible in football and Nepal will take on Afghanistan on Wednesday with the hope of booking a place for the semifinals.

Despite solid performance, Nepal, unable to get a clear result, now need to register a wide margin win over Afghanistan. However, the win over Afghanistan alone will not be enough as Nepal´s fate now depends on the match between defending champions Maldives and four-time champions India.

India have already booked a place for the semis from group ´A´ with six points from two matches while the Maldives are in second spot with four points. They played a 1-1 draw with Nepal and defeated new boys Afghanistan 3-1. Similarly, Nepal are in third place with one point and Afghanistan have not yet opened their account. Nepal lost 1-0 to India on Tuesday.

Maldives along with four points have plus two goals in their account while Nepal have minus one goal. Therefore, if Nepal beat Afghanistan by two goals in their last group match, then India also should defeat Maldives with the same goal margin for the result to be in Nepal´s favor. If India beat Maldives with the least margin, then Nepal must beat Afghanistan by a difference of at least three goals. However, if Maldives played a draw or beat India, then Nepal´s journey in the tournament would come to an end.

On Wednesday, Nepal have to play a match prior to the Maldives, which could be detrimental for the team.

Despite technically sound performance of Nepal, Afghanistan too have thrown a tough challenge to the opponents in their latest match. So, Wednesday´s clash will not be an easy task for the Nepali side. Nepal need to play for win with good margin to keep their hope afloat for the next round.

Looking back to history, Nepal have played with Afghanistan thrice and registered wide margin wins in two matches, while the other match ended in a draw. During the Asian Cup selection match held six years back in Kathmandu Nepal had defeated Afghanistan 4-0 and in the 10th South Asian Games (U-23) Nepal thrashed them 5-1. In Merdeka Cup, Malaysia, last year the match finished in a 2-2 stalemate.

Nepali team is optimistic that they would continue with their past domination against Afghanistan. “We are confident that we can defeat Afghanistan. To keep our hope alive we must win,” said Nepali coach Krishna Thapa. However, he is less optimistic about making it through to the semifinals. “Only Nepal´s win will not be sufficient; the match between India and Maldives should also be in our favor.”

Afghanistan will also play for win as they have yet to open their account in the points table. “Our chances of advancing into the next round have already ended. However, we will play for win as the match will be a matter of pride for us. I am sure we will win,” said Afghani coach Mohammad Yousuf Kargar.

Wednesday´s matches
Nepal Vs Afghanistan - 14:45 NST
India Vs Maldives - 17:45 NST

Bangladesh in semis

The hosts Bangladesh secured a place in the last four defeating Sri Lanka 2-1 as the winners of group ´A´ with seven points. Sri Lanka have already qualified for the semifinals with six points.

Midfielder Inamul Haque scored both the goals for the home team backed by a huge crowd of home supporters. He scored in the 8th and 66th minutes respectively. With these goals he has scored four goals in the tournament. Ibi Chana pulled one back in the 41st minute for Sri Lanka. Chana too has added four goals in his kitty.

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