Lalitpur, August 21
Nepal suffered their second defeat and crashed out of the AVC Asian Senior Men’s Central Region Volleyball Championship at the Nepali Army Sports Complex covered hall today.
Two days after facing the straight sets defeat at the hands of Kyrgyzstan, the home team lost 25-21, 25-21, 25-14 in their second and final match of three-team Group A. Kyrgyzstan topped the group with two wins, while Maldives joined them in last four as runners-up after the day’s victory.
The Nepali team had entered into the tournament with two wins against Afghanistan in the friendly series but the home side players were nowhere near the mark in the competition. Nepali spikers lacked spark against Maldives and they displayed poor shows in all departments.
The first set was a competitive one but the players never impressed throughout the match. Nepal took a 8-3 lead in the second set but Maldives bounced back strongly and levelled the scores at 9-all. Maldives went ahead after 12-all and completed the win with ease. Nepal faltered from the beginning of the third and never recovered. The jam-packed covered hall started chanting the name of open spiker Man Bahadur Shrestha, who was not even considered for selection after he missed the eighth National Games. The situation became so emotional that Shrestha — who was watching the match from stands — could not stop tears rolling down from his eyes. The loss was third for Nepal against Maldives in seven meetings.
Nepal had defeated Maldives to finish third in the previous edition of the tournament held in Male two year ago for their maiden international medal.
Skipper Em Rana Magar said the day did not belong to them.
“We had a two-month training for the championship and I think we did what we could do out of that,” said Rana Magar.
“And the luck was not on our part today.”
In another match, Uzbekistan — who had already entered the semi-finals — defeated Afghanistan 25-23, 29-27, 29-27 for their third consecutive victory and topped Group B. Turkmenistan finished as runners-up after their 3-1 victory over Bangladesh. Afghanistan and Bangladesh crashed out from group stage.
In Thursday’s semi-finals, Kyrgyzstan will face Turkmenistan, while Uzbekistan will take on Maldives. Nepal will now play against the second runners-up of Group B Afghanistan in the fifth-place playoff match on Friday.
A version of this article appears in print on August 22, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.