Nepal thrash Maldives, enter semis

Lalitpur, August 21

Nepal thrashed Maldives 6-0 and advanced to the semi-finals of the SAFF U-15 Championship here at the ANFA Complex grounds today.

Brijesh Chaudhary scored a brace, while Darshan Gurung, Roshan Rana Magar, Akash Budha Magar and Roshan Dong netted one each for Nepal. The result meant India, who had defeated Maldives 9-0 in their opening match, also advanced to the semi-finals from the three-team Group B. Nepal and India will face each other on Wednesday to decide the group winners.

Chaudhary opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a header from inside the box following a cross from Darshan Gurung. Gurung was the scorer in the 21st minute when his shot from inside the penalty area beat past Maldives goalkeeper Mohamed Raif Abdulla.

Skipper Roshan Rana Magar made it 3-0 in the 37th minute from the spot. Nepal earned the penalty after Maldives defender Mohamed Faihaan Imran handled the ball inside the danger area.

Akash Budha Magar, who replaced Ranjan Pun in the 32nd minute, tapped in to score the team’s fourth goal in the 45th minute capitalising on poor defense from Maldivian players.

Nepal added two more goals after the interval. Roshan Dong found the back of the nets in the 47th minute, while Chaudhary completed the scoring with his second goal of the match after his powerful shot from the edge of the box found back of the nets in the 73rd minute.

Nepal were then reduced to 10 men in the 88th minute after Roshan Dong was expelled for a foul against Maldives skipper Ibrahim Imran.

Nepal head coach Sunil Kumar Shrestha said his side opted attacking approach and won the match comfortably. “We won the match with huge margin but the attacking approach put pressure on our players that resulted in a couple of lapses in the defense line,” said Shrestha. “We will try to improve on defense and finishing in our next match,” said Shrestha, who predicted a tough match against India.

Maldives coach Mohamed Shaazly said his side was in tough group and playing against India in the opener put them into huge pressure. “Today’s match showed that Maldives and Nepal were of same level but we were on back foot because of the huge defeat at the hands of India in the first match,” said Shaazly. “We could have played better had we met Nepal in the first match. But still we created a couple of goal scoring chances against Nepal,” said Shaazly.

On Tuesday, Bhutan will face Bangladesh in the Group A match. Both the teams