KATHMANDU: With the help of Nawayug Shrestha’s hat-trick, Nepal defeated Maldives 4-1 in the semifinals of Bangabandhu Gold Cup at the Bangabandhu International Stadium in Dhaka on Tuesday evening.
Shrestha scored his first goal on the 31st minute, and added two more in the second half. He found the back of the net in the first minute of added four-minute stoppage time to complete his brilliant hat-trick.
Nepal will meet Bahrain, which beat the hosts Bangladesh 1-0, in the final scheduled for Friday.
It is the first time Nepal would be playing in the final after the 1999 South Asian Games. Nepal was defeated by Bangladesh in the regional tournament played in Kathmandu. Earlier in 1993, Nepal had won the tournament.
After today’s accomplishment, Nawayug Shrestha has joined the elite club of hat-trickers, which includes Ganesh Thapa, Naresh Joshi, Nirajan Raymajhi and Bharat Khawas.
International hat-tricks for Nepal
1987- Ganesh Thapa (vs Bhutan) 1999- Naresh Joshi ( vs Sri Lanka) 2001- Nirajan Rayamajhi (vs Macau in Almaty) 2013- Bharat Khawas ( vs Northern Mariana Islands in Kathmandu) 2016 - Nawayug Shrestha (vs Maldives in Dhaka)
KATHMANDU: Bimal Gharti Magar’s shot rebounded off the post and Nawayug Shrestha slotted the ball into the net to give Nepal a much needed lead against Maldives on the 31st minute in the second semifinals of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup.
In the second half, Nepal’s goalkeeper Bikash Kutu made an excellent save to maintain the lead, while Bishal Rai and Nawayug added one goal each to put Nepal in the driving seat at the Banglabandu International Stadium in Dhaka this evening.
Nawayug Shrestha proved to be the thorn in the Maldives defence as he scored his second goal on the 62nd minute. Bikram Lama assisted Shrestha for the brace.
Maldives succeeded in scoring a goal on the 77th minute. Currently, Nepal are leading 3-1 against Maldives.
The winner of this game will play against Bahrain U-23 in the final on January 22 for the Bangabandhu Gold Cup. Baharain defeated the hosts 1-0 in the first semifinals.
Nepal progressed to the semifinals by registering one win against Sri Lanka and drawing two games against the hosts Bangaldesh and Felda Utd of Malaysia.
During the pre-match press conference held on Monday both the coaches were optimistic about booking their place in the final.
Bal Gopal Maharjan, U-19 coach was handed the responsiblity to guide the senior team for the on-going gold cup.
Maharjan accepted that the final attacking play of Nepal has been very malaise and only one elusive goal register victory for Nepal. He said, they are looking to improve their attacking play against the much improved Maldives sides in the semi-final.
Maharjan said Maldives were considered as minnows some years back but now they are a much improved side and tomorrow’s game would be 50-50 match.
Ricki Herbert Maldives coach, said it would be foolish to underestimate Nepali side. He is focused on reaching the final of the tournament.