Kathmandu, August 31

Nepal and India played a goalless draw in an international friendly football match at the Belwadi Stadium in Pune on Monday.

This is Nepal’s third draw against India in their 18 meetings. India have won 12 matches, while Nepal have three victories under their belt. This is the ninth consecutive match Nepal have failed to score a goal.

Nepal’s last goal, however, came against India, scored by Jumanu Rai, in their 2-1 victory in the SAFF Championship in 2013 at the Dasharath Stadium.

Nepal’s coach Dhruba KC included three U-19 players in Anjan Bista, Bimal Gharti Magar and Ananta Tamang in the starting XI handing Bista the national debut, keeping veterans Jumanu Rai, Anil Gurung, Sandip Rai, Bhola Silwal and Raju Tamang on the bench.

From the start of the match, India tested Nepali defenders with Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh on the front line. Chhetri wasted a chance to provide lead to India in the 45th minute as his shot went wide in one-on-one situation with Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong. Nepal could not make any impact in the first half.

With a couple of changes in the break, Nepal looked a different team in the second half. Bharat Shah came in place of injured Bharat Khawas, while debutante Nawayug Shrestha replaced Jagjeet Shrestha.  Nepal put some pressure but failed to penetrate through Indian defenders. Sushil KC became the third player to get national cap when he replaced Bista in the 70th minute.

KC made immediate impact but he too failed to find the back of the nets as he ended up with a wide shot. Nepal then made their fourth change sending in Jumanu Rai in place of Bimal Gharti Magar but that too did not work. At the other end, Nepal goalkeeper Chemjong was tested by Indian strikers couple of times. Chemjong, who made three saves in the first half, denied Calvin Lobo in the dying moments of the match.

Nepal coach KC was happy to stop India to a goalless draw on their home soil. “It was a 50-50 match and we performed better in the second half,” said KC. India coach Stephen Constantine said he was satisfied with the team’s performance. “I am happy for the chances that we created in the match. We should have taken the lead in the first half,” he added.

Maharjan completes 50 caps

KATHMANDU: Defender Biraj Maharjan won his 50th national cap in a friendly match against India in Pune on Monday. Maharjan had made his national team debut against Pakistan in a friendly match in 2008 in Pokhara.

The ANFA Academy’s second batch player, a reliable defender, has been regular member of the squad. Another player Sandip Rai, who also had 49 caps, did not feature in the match due to injury.