KATHMANDU: Nepal bounced back in contention of the AFC Under 19 Championship Group A qualifiers with a 2-1 win over Kyrgyzstan here at the Dasharath Stadium today.
In other matches of the day, Yemen held tournament favourites Jordan to a 2-2 draw and Tajikistan recorded their second consecutive win, defeating Palestine
3-0 at the Armed Police Force headquarters grounds in Halchowk.
At the Dasharath Stadium, striker Nirajan Malla and midfielder Shiva Shrestha scored for the home team while Abdukaimov Urmat replied for Kyrgyzstan.
The goal drought of Nepal in international matches couldn’t have ended in a better way than the acrobatically struck bicycle-kick
from the prolific striker Malla in the 73rd minute.
Malla’s goal — scored after 599 minutes in international competitions — was Nepal’s first since March 2008 when the senior team scored against the same team during the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers here at the Dasharath Stadium.
Malla would have doubled the lead in the 76th minute had he chased a cross
from Sujal Shrestha in a two-on-two situation with
the defenders. Kyrgyzstan, however, levelled the scored in the 83rd minute with Urmat converting a header on a cross from Mambetaliev Salamat. Though Nepali goalie Dinesh Thapa got
his hands to the ball, the powerfully struck header deflected into the net.
In the 86th minute, midfielder Ganesh Khadka, who had so far failed to make his mark, supplied a magnificent cross to unmarked Shiva Shrestha, who connected the ball powerfully into the nets from a tight angle leaving hardly any chance for the Kyrgyzstan glovesman Zinchenko Maksim to react. Nepal survived a scare when in the dying moments Kyrgyzstan captain Satarov Rashid’s shot was rebound off the inner cross bar.
Nepali coach Raju Kaji Shakya said his team still has some areas to improvise on. Captain Dipak Bhushal said his side has been boosted by the win and will do better in the next match against Tajikistan on Thursday. Shakya’s counterpart Vladimir Alsandrov said his team didn’t get any support from the referee. “I accept we didn’t play well but the referees gave most of the decisions in favour of the hosts,” said Alsandrov.
Earlier, Yemen were
forced to share a point with Jordan despite taking the lead twice. Al Worafi Ahmed gave Yemen the lead scoring from inside the area on a cross from Aiman Al Hagri in the 45th minute. But Jordan bounced back in the 62nd minute with a powerful shot from Hamza Aldaradreh. Ten minutes later, Al Worafi helped Yemen retain the lead before Hamza once again rescued Jordan scoring in the 86th minute.
In Halchowk, Davronov Nuriddin scored the only first half goal for Tajikistan. Gafronov Sodibek then double their lead in the 60th minute and six minutes later Abdulloev Sheroz completed a comfortable win scoring from the spot kick. Tajikistan lead the table with six points from two matches while Jordan and Yemen have four points each. Nepal have three points while Palestine and Kyrgyzstan are yet to open their account.