Nepali players let themselves down

KATHMANDU: Nepal were themselves to blame as they missed out on a wonderful chance to snatch a point, if not three, against leaders Tajikistan during the AFC Under-19 Championship Group A qualifying match here at the Dasharath Stadium today.

After taking a first half lead, the home team conceded a needless penalty after the restart and a foolish blunder from goalkeeper Dinesh Thapa Magar instead handed the Tajikistan three clear points in their 2-1 loss.

The result kept Tajikistan’s winning run intact as they lead the standing with a maximum nine points from three matches. Jordan are second with seven points after their 2-1 victory over winless Kyrgyzstan today. Yemen are next with five points after their 2-2 draw against Palestine while the hosts are fourth with three points. Palestine opened their account with a draw and are fifth while Kyrgyzstan have lost all their three matches and are bottom of the table.

At the Dasharath Stadium, striker Nirajan Malla provided the hosts the lead thanks to a sublime long pass from defender Rohit Chand in the 43rd minute. Malla just needed to guide his header past the bewildered goalkeeper Saidjon Saidrahmonov. Nepal also missed out to score on number of occasions during the first half they dominated.

With just two minutes before the break, Nepali skipper Dipak Bhusal made a needless tackle on Davronov Nuriddin inside the box prompting Qatari referee Abudllah Dor Mohammad Balideh to point towards the spot. Davronov himself took the penalty, sending Nepali custodian the wrong way to level the score.

The home side also had fair number of chances to retain their lead in the latter half but it was the visitors who took the unexpected lead — which ultimately turned out to be the decider — in the 79th minute.

Tajikistan defender Abdulloev Sheroz directed a 50-yard freekick inside the box and the ball bounced once before crossing the goalline. Nepali goalkeeper Dinesh Thapa Magar had enough time to judge the ball but

he misjudged it and came out of his place to

punch away the ball, which he missed completely.

Nepal’s coach Raju Kaji Shakya praised his team’s valiant efforts despite the loss. “I am satisfied with the way my boys played against such a good team,” said Shakya. Shakya, however, added that they conceded both the goals needlessly. “Especially there can’t be a major blunder like the one our goalkeeper made,” added the coach.

Speaking on their team’s chances for qualification, Shakya said that it would now be like awaiting a lottery result. “It more depends on our opponents’ results rather than how we play in our remaining matches,” added Shakya.

Nepal will be without Dipak Bhusal in their next match as the skipper was sent off for his double bookable offense in the dying

moments of the match. He first picked the yellow card when he brought down Davronov Nuriddin conceding a penalty. He later collected the second for a foul in the dying moments.

Shakya’s counterpart Gafurov Salokhidin said that the match was a tough one. “We were prepared for the match as we were playing against the home crowd,” added the Tajikistan coach. “They played really well

but most importantly we earned three points,” added Salokhidin.

Earlier at the same venue, Palestine fought back twice to hold Yemen to a 2-2 draw. Asaad Al-Reyashi converted a pass from Al-Hubaishi Hasan to put Yemen ahead in the 15th minute only for substitute Thaer Nababta to equalise in the 49th minute.

Aiman Saleh Al-Hagri made it 2-1 for Yemen in the 79th minute but another substitute Mohammed Al-Shamsi scored a last-gasp equaliser to deny Yemen three clear points.

At the Armed Police Force (APF) grounds, Jordan defeated Kyrgyzstan 2-1. Mustafa Anwar Mohamad scored in the sixth minute for Jordan before Tulaibek Uulu Baktai drew level for Kyrgyzstan in the 17th minute. Suhib Adna Rahall then scored the decider in the 45th minute for Jordan.