KATHMANDU: Nepal rode on Nawayug Shrestha’s hat-trick to thrash Bhutan 5-0 in the opening group A men’s football game of the 12th South Asian Games at the Nehru Stadium in Guwathi, India today.
High-flying Nepal started the first half with confidence and controlled the tempo of the game with ease to take the lead in the 33rd minute as Nawayug Shrestha nodded his first goal of the campaign. Captain Biraj Maharjan had wiped in an exquisite cross in the box where unmarked Shrestha scored the first goal of the game to give Nepal an early lead.
On the stroke of half-time, midfielder Bishal Rai doubled the lead and Nepal ended leading the game 2-0 as the first half ended.
Attacking midfielder Anjan Bista scored a sensational goal, and gave Nepal an inaccessible lead of 3-0 in the 51st minute.
Nepal’s prolific goal scorer Shrestha, a Tribhuvan Army Club player, scored on the 76th and 85th minute to complete his hat-trick and routed Bhutan 5-0.
Bhutan were reduced to 10 men for the final eight minutes of the game as Bhutan’s Dorje was shown a red card.
Shrestha has started the SAG campaign from the point where he had left in the Bangabandu Gold Cup recently held in Bangladesh as he had scored his first international hat-trick against Maldives in the semifinals.
He is the only Nepali football player to score two hat-tricks in international games.
International hat-tricks for Nepal
Nepal are in group B along with Bhutan and Bangladesh. Nepal will play their second group game against Bangladesh on February 11 at the same stadium.
Birat Maharjan is leading the Nepal side coached by former Nepali international Raju Kaji Shakya.
Nepal XI vs Bhutan