Nepal won first leg 2-1

Pictures: Republica
KATHMANDU, June 29: Nepal registered a 2-1 win over East Timor on Wednesday during its Asian Qualifiers campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil at the home ground on Dasharath Stadium.

However, the win was not as easy as expected in the slippery ground marred by downpour from the beginning to the end of the match against the low profile team in terms of FIFA ranking. Nepal ranked 148th in the latest FIFA ranking is 54 spots ahead of the South East Asian opponent. 
Bharat Khawas became the key character of Nepali team who created momentum for the first goal but was sent off in the 63rd minute after being booked with the second yellow card. 

Nepal had taken lead in the early 15th minute through penalty after Khawas sprinting with the ball was fouled by defender Raul Dias Monteiro Isac in the penalty box. And, striker Anil Gurung did not commit any mistake to send the ball home with his right footed shot. The goal was the sixth international goal for Gurung who had last time netted against Bhutan in a friendly a couple of months ago.

To disappoint the large number of home fans gathered at the stadium despite persistent rainfall, Timor hit back the equalizer two minutes after the interval. Forward Correia´s right flank freekick from 30-yard entered the net after bouncing once in the slippery pitch stunning goalie Kiran Chemjong. The freekick was awarded to Timor after Khawas bad-tackled a Timor player.

Khawas brought in more disappointment on the face of Nepali fans seven minutes into the second half as he got marching order from the referee for second bookable offence. Khawas was slapped with the second yellow after referee judged him diving in the penalty area. 

"The referee´s decision to show second yellow card to Bharat was wrong," Nepal´s British coach Graham Roberts expressed his dissatisfaction towards the referee´s judgment.

Jumanu Rai, who had made frequent mistakes in the match earlier, turned out to be hero in the 70th minute after he made an attractive header from close range to seal the victory. Rai made a free header from the box in a long pass of Biraj Maharjan off Bhola Silwal´s cleverly taken short-corner. 

The goal also became the eighth international goal for the Nepal Police Club forward Rai, who last time had netted against Maldives during SAFF Championship in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in December 2009. With the goal, Rai became fourth in the highest international goal scorer list of Nepali footballers behind Nirajan Rayamajhi (13), Hari Khadka (13) and Ganesh Thapa (9).

"We were absolutely fantastic despite a man down," said Nepali coach Roberts during the post-match press conference. "Had the pitch been better, we could have played much better," Roberts added. "We got as many as 16 scoring chances and everyone in the pitch played 200 percent," The Briton claimed. 

In the whole match, Nepal dominated the ball possession and created frequent scoring opportunities in comparison to a couple of moves created by Timor. Timor goalie Diamantino Leong also made some attractive saves. 

In the 28th minute, Rai´s flick header in Rabin Shrestha´s pass was caught by goalie while in the 52nd minute he prevented Nirajan Khadka from scoring from short distance.

Similarly, penalty taker Gurung twice squandered scoring chances in the 59th and 73rd minute respectively. In the 76th minute, Gurung´s and substitute Bijay Gurung´s header was caught by goalie.

Earlier, defender Rohit Chand attractively defended DA Silva Emilio Ribeiro on the edge of the box. 

Nepal will take on East Timor on Saturday in the second leg match at the Dasharath Stadium.

Meanwhile, East Timor assistant coach Manugl Dia Costa Suargi said that the slippery playground became the major drawback for his side. He termed the narrow defeat against Nepal as the good result for his team. "Nepali team is not very different from ours and we will try to win the next match," Suargi said adding the main target behind playing the match was to increase the team´s FIFA rankings. 

Day of records 

Nepal on Wednesday made two records during the World Cup Qualifiers. Nepal´s victory over East Timor became the first home victory and first goal so far for Nepal after its participation starting from 1985 in the World Cup Qualifiers. So far Nepal had played three matches, excluding Wednesday´s match, and among them Nepal had lost two and played draw on one. In 1985 Nepal had played draw against Malaysia at the home ground. Nepal had conceded four goals previously but scored the first goal on Wednesday. 

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