Nepal rally to beat Macau

Phnom Pheh, May 24:

Nepal began their qualifying campaign for the AFC Challenge Cup with a 3-2 win over Macau here today.

Playing their first match in the three-team Group D, Nepal rallied from a goal down to beat the Macau at the National Olympic Stadium today. Nepal Police striker Ju Manu Rai scored a brace including the 61st minute winner while Sandeep Rai scored the other for the Nepali team. Captain Chi Men Chi and Kin Seng Chun converted for Macau.

The win is Nepal’s third against Macau in their five encounters. Nepal have lost one and drawn one against Macau. Win against hosts Cambodia on Monday will ensure Nepal a place in the eight-team finals to be held in Hyderabad from July 30 to August 10. Loss or draw on Monday meant Nepal have to wait the results between Macau and Afghanistan.

Despite dominating from the start, Nepal conceded the lead in the 28th minute. Macau was awarded the penalty in the 28th minute when defender Chun Bahadur Thapa brought down Kin Seng Chun inside the box and skipper Chi Men Chi stepped up to convert the spot kick.

Sandeep brought Nepali team back with a spectacular one-touch goal in the 43rd minute. Assigned the duty of midfield, Sandeep scored on a cross from Biraj Maharjan.

Ju Manu put Nepal ahead in the 57th minute, heading home a cross from skipper Rakesh Shrestha but their celebration did not last long as Kin Seng drew level for Macau just two minutes later.

Nepal’s German coach Thomas Flath replaced defender Chun Bahadur Thapa with midfielder Ananata Thapa after conceding the second goal. Lok Bandhu Gurung, who was assuming the role of midfielder until then, took to the defensive responsibility.

Flath’s move gave immediate result as Ju Manu scored the winner in the 61st minute, thanks to the goalkeeping blunder. Macau goalie Chon Kit spilled Ju Manu’s header into the goal. Nepali coach Flath expressed happiness over the win but not the performance.

“They (Macau) were equally good but we were the better side during the second phase,” Flath said. Pointing to the rain, Nepali skipper Rakesh said that the slippery condition of the ground made them extremely difficult to perform.

Macau coach Su Bid Lung also said that the latter half of the game made all the difference between the two teams.