KATHMANDU, MAY 29
Nepal faced a 6-2 defeat at the hands of Iraq in a friendly match at the Al-Fayhaa Stadium in Basra today.
In their first match in 25 years on the Iraqi soil, Nepal came from a goal down to take a lead at one stage but went on to concede four goals in the first half, while the home side added two goals in the second half.
Nepal fell behind in the seventh minute when Alaa Abdul Zahra Khashin converted a free kick from 25 yards out into a sensational goal after Manish Dangi brought down Dhurgham Ismael Dawood outside the penalty box.
The Iraqi celebration did not last long, though. Nepal managed to level the scores in the ninth minute when Safaa Hadi Al-Furaiji fired into his own nets while trying to save an attempt from Anjan Bista, who shot past goalkeeper Fahad Talib Raheem in one-on-one situation. Bista should have put Nepal ahead in the 15th minute but the striker shot directly into the hands of Iraqi custodian Fahad Talib Raheem in one-on-one situation after he met a miss-pass from defender Ahmed Abduhussein Hamid.
Nepal custodian Kiran Kumar Limbu saved Alaa Abdul Zahra Khashin's header in the 26th minute. Manish Dangi marked his national team debut with a goal to put Nepal ahead in the 29th minute. Dangi received a pass from Suman Lama and beat the offside trap before firing past advancing goalkeeper Fahad Talib Raheem.
Nepal's pace slowed down after 30 minutes and the home side pushed for equaliser. Nepal custodian Limbu made a couple of saves but the home side's relentless pressure paid off in the 38th minute when Mohammed Abdulzahra Obaid headed home following a corner from Dhurgham Ismael Dawood.
Iraq took the lead two minutes later after Aymen Hussein Ghadhban capitalised on an error from central defender Rohit Chand. Ghadhban collected the back pass from Chand and rounded off goalkeeper Limbu to score in an open net. Ghadhban scored his second and team's fourth goal in the first half injury time with a header to go into the break with a comfortable 4-2 lead.
Iraq extended the lead in the 66th minute after capitalising on yet another defensive error.
Suman Aryal collected a pass from Rohit Chand and he fell short while trying to pass it to goalkeeper Limbu as substitute Mohanad Ali Alshammari met the ball and shot past the custodian to make it 5-2.
The Nepali players were clueless in the crowded penalty box as Sajaad Jasim Almsharrafawee made it 6-2 with a powerful shot into the second bar following a short corner taken by Bashar Resan Bonyan in the 75th minute.
Earlier, Nepal head coach Abdullah Almutairi handed national team debut to midfielder Manish Dangi and defender Gautam Shrestha as the newlook Nepali side walked into the pitch with a 4-3-3 strategy. In his bid to build the team for future, Almutairi - who took over the team in April - has included 10 new faces in the 23-man squad for the friendly match against Iraq and three remaining matches of the World Cup and Asian Cup to be held next month in Kuwait.
A version of this article appears in the print on May 30, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.