India skipper Chhetri breaks Kathmandu jinx as visitors win again


Nepal faced a 2-1 defeat at the hands of India in the second international friendly match here at the Dasharath Stadium today.

After a goalless first half, Farukh Haji Kasam Choudhary and skipper Sunil Chhetri scored for the visiting team, while Tej Tamang replied one for Nepal. The two teams had played a 1-1 draw in the first match three days ago.

The two teams will now meet in the 13th SAFF Championship slated for October 1-16 in Maldives. After the day's match, India extended the record to 14-2 with five draws in 21 meetings between the neighbouring countries. Nepal remained winless against India for eight years with their last victory coming in the SAFF Championship in 2013.

On Sunday, Farukh Haji Kasam Choudhary opened the scoring in the 72nd minute when he netted home from inside the box following a pass from his skipper Chhetri. It was Chhetri who had assisted for the equaliser in the first match. His powerful strike was blocked by Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu and Anirudh Thapa won race against defender Ananta Tamang to slot home from close.

Chhetri doubled the tally in the 80th minute to score his first goal against Nepal in Kathmandu. Fed by Anirudh Thapa near the centre of the pitch in a counter attack, Chhetri guided the ball alone before scoring past Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu in one-on-one situation.

Chhetri, the top scorer for India against Nepal with six goals, had not been able to find the back of the nets at the Dasharath Stadium in the previous nine matches.

Tej Tamang reduced the deficit in the 87th minute but it was too late for the home team to stage a comeback.

Tamang slotted home from about 25 yards out after taking a pass from Bishal Rai. Earlier, finishing woes haunted the Nepali team as they wasted a number of easy opportunities.

Manish Dangi was the first to miss a golden chance in the 13th minute when he failed to control the ball that fell in front of him after Tej Tamang's shot took a deflection. Ashish Lama could not connect a header on a cross from Ayush Ghalan in the 28th minute.

Gautam Shrestha saved the home team from going down in the 41st minute after he made a clearance from goal line to deny Bipin Singh Thounaojam, while India skipper Chhetri headed just over the crossbar four minutes later.

Nawayug Shrestha did well to release the ball to unmarked Bishal Rai but he missed a sitter for Nepal in the 68th minute as he shot wide from close with India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu the only one to beat. Manish Dangi missed an opportunity for second time in the match after he shot wide from close following a cross from Anjan Bista.

The match briefly got tense after referee Prajwol Chhetri denied a penalty to India when Nepal defender Dinesh Rajbanshi brought down Farukh Haji Kasam Choudhary inside the danger zone in the 75th minute. The Indian side protested with coach Igor Stimac entering inside the pitch only to see a yellow card from the referee.

Nepal coach Abdullah Almutairi handed the national team debuts to goalkeeper Bishal Shrestha and defender Rajan Gurung. Shrestha replaced skipper Kiran Kumar Limbu, while Gurung came in place of Manish Dangi in the 86th minute.

A version of this article appears in the print on September 6 2021, of The Himalayan Times.