Nepal lose opening tie against Lebanon

KATHMANDU: Nepal lost their opening match of the AFC Under-16 Championship Group B qualifiers going 1-0 down against Lebanon here at the Dashrath Staidum on Monday.

Nepal, who technically outplayed Lebanon in the

second half but failed to score, were a goal behind in the match after Lebanon’s Ali Saad scored in the 14th minute early in the game. Saad took advantage of the Nepali defence line’s error scoring inside from the area beating goalkeeper Laxman Thapa. Nepal then looked nervy being a goal behind early in the match.

Nepal created no real opportunities of goal in the first half except a curving free kick from Man Bahadur Tamang in the 26th minute, which was brilliantly punched out by Lebanon goalie Mohammad Salem. Sameer Limbu also failed to score on a freekick

in the first half after his shot flew over the bar. Having 1-0 lead early in game, the Lebanon side shifted into the defensive mode meaning they would not go for any real offense in the match.

Nepal then built their pace strongly in the second half getting almost 80 per cent of the ball possession. It was only Nepal who came charging in most of the times targeting the post. Nepal would have equalised in the 53rd minute on a shot from captain Sulav Maskey, had there been no excellent work from Lebanon keeper who blocked the ball excellently diving to his left.

Nepali mid-field, which was described as the powerful asset by chief coach Dambar Gurung, left no mark on today’s match as they were unable to penetrate inside the Lebanon area. Sulav Maskey made a good cross from the left at an empty Lebanon area but there was no one to go for the shot.

Coach Gurung admitted that the midfield position failed to impress against Lebanon. “I was confident of the mid-field as there was captain himself and Laxman Mahat but they let me down.” Gurung said he would change his strategy and the set of players in Nepal’s other match against Iran. The loss means Nepal will face a hard time to qualify for the finals. They need to win all the remaining three matches to stay alive.

Lebanon coach Abdul Naser Bakhti, who thought Nepal won’t be a tough opponent in the group, said it was hard playing against them. “Nepal is a good team. They kept on building the tempo in the second half when we were defensive,” Bakhti said.

Earlier in the first match, Tajikistan defeated 10-man Bahrain 2-0. Tajikistan took lead in the 27th minute when Muhtojzoda Ibrohimi scored on a free kick from the edge of the Bahrain area. Captain Rasulov Dilshod attempted a shot from 35 yards in the 73rd minute to produce a stunning goal. Bahrain were one man short in the 24th minute after Abdul Rahman was expelled for a foul. Bahrain coach Adnan Ebrahim said having only ten players from the first half put them at the back seat.

AFC to scan players’ age

KATHMANDU: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is planning to perform the MRI X-Ray of some nine players of Bahrain and Tajikistan in suspicion of being over-age at the AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers that began on Monday. “The AFC officials have picked nine players from the two teams to be tested on Tuesday,” said Dr Raju Dongol. AFC is authorised to opt for medical test of any player they doubt upon. Dongol informed that the players from Nepal and Lebanon would also be examined a couple of days later. “We could not see all of the Lebanon players in their first match on Monday and the AFC officials have planned to pick the Lebanon players after their second match,” he added. — HNS