Nepal lose opener against Yemen

KATHMANDU: Nepal made a disappointing start to their AFC Under-19 Championship Group A qualifiers campaign, going down 0-3 against Yemen here at the Dasharath Stadium today.

In the day's other matches, Tajikistan hammered Kyrgyzstan 4-0 while tournament favourites Jordan saw off Palestine 3-1 at the Halchowk Stadium.

An own goal from Ganesh Khadka gave Yemen the first half lead before extending their lead with goals from Al Khamri Ahmed and Al Woafi Ahmed. The Nepali team, who was confident of putting up a good challenge against Yemen, failed to create opportunities from where they could find themselves in the match.

Nepal lost the momentum when Khadka headed Al Hubaishi Hasan's free kick into his own net in the 40th minute. Hasan was the match setter for Yemen who created another opportunity in the 53rd minute after unmarked Al Khamri Ahmed excellently headed his curving free kick into the net.

It turned out to be a bad day for the home team as Yemen were awarded a penalty in the 60th minute after Niraj Magar brought down Aimen Al Hagri inside the area. Al Worafi Ahmed made no mistake in converting the spot kick. Nepali coach Raju Kaji Shakya said his side didn't perform to their potential. "I am disappointed as the players didn't perform according to their standards," said Shakya.

The Nepali playing set included injured Nirajan Malla, Rohit Chand, Dipak Bhushal and Ganesh Khadka but they were unable to put any impression. Nepal made two good moves throughout the match but couldn't cash on them. Malla failed to direct Bhushal's free kick in the 51st minute. In the dying moments of the match Sujal Shrestha slipped near the Yemen goal line while attempting a header.

Shakya also said that his players couldn't hold the pressure exerted by the opponents. Shakya's counterpart Sami Naash said he was surprised by such a high standard game from Nepal. "We won the match as we capitalised on the opportunities but the way Nepal played really surprised me," said the winning coach. After losing the first match, Nepal are now under pressure to win all their remaining four matches in their bid to make it to the finals.

Earlier, Sobirov Kurbonali, Askarov Fariz, Khotam Shavkat and Gaforov Sodibek scored a goal each in the match dominated by Tajikistan. Tajikistan took lead in the 24th minute after Kurbonali converted his 25 yard-free kick. In the 56th, Fariz scored on a rebound when Kyrgyzstan goalie Dzhanybekov blocked Sodibek's powerful shot inside the area. Shavkat then scored in the 63rd minute on excellent team coordination from the Tajik side. Tajikistan found their fourth goal from Sodibek who chipped a ball inside the area to beat Kyrgyz glovesman.

At the APF grounds in Halchowk , Ahmed Sameer and Khaled scored for Jordan before Palestine goalkeeper Yahya's own goal in the 88th minute extended their lead. Rami Almasalma scored a consolation goal for Palestine in the additional time.