KATHMANDU, March 4: Host Nepal´s chances of advancing into the final rounds all but ended on Monday after it succumbed to a 2-0 defeat against Bangladesh in its second match of the AFC Challenge Cup Group D Qualifiers being held at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu.Nepal still has mathematical chances of progressing but it must beat group favorite Palestine, which crushed Northern Mariana Island (NMI) 9-0 in the day´s early kick-off to continue its winning run in the tournament. In its first match, Palestine had defeated Bangladesh 1-0.
On the other hand, Bangladesh reignited its hopes of qualification with its first victory in the qualifiers. Bangladesh will take on the comparatively weaker NMI in its last match on Wednesday.
“We had to beat Nepal to remain in contention for a finals berth and we did it,” Bangladesh´s Dutch coach Lodewijk Darius Ke Kruif said during the post-match conference.
Forward Rony scored in either half as Bangladesh handed the home team its 10th defeat in 15 matches played between the two sides so far.
Rony put Bangladesh ahead in the 28th minute through penalty. Bangladesh was awarded the penalty after Biraj Maharjan fouled forward Mohammad Toklis Ahmed in the danger zone even as Nepal´s custodian Kiran Chemjong had already punched the ball to safety.
Rony then doubled the advantage in the 57th minute on a counter attack after receiving a pass from Ahmed.
In the ill-tempered match, Bangladesh´s Rana, a 66th minute replacement for Ahmed, was sent off in the 86th minute for a second bookable offense.
“The first goal we conceded through penalty became the turning point of the match,” Nepal´s Polish coach Jack Stefanowski said during the post-match conference. “We still have chance of qualifying as we still have a match to play and we need to focus on it.”
Nepal´s game was characterized by poor coordination, poor finishing and ´bad luck´ to some extent. Along with dominating ball possession Nepal hit the woodwork thrice.
In comparison to the home team, Bangladesh created fewer chances. Nepal made more than half-a-dozen attempts while Bangladesh created as many as three opportunities,
In the 41st minute, Nepal´s skipper Sagar Thapa, left unmarked in the area, fired above the bar from the penalty spot. Earlier, Bangladesh custodian Md Sahidul Alam had prevented Jagjeet Shrestha´s shot from the right flank in the second minute and also denied Bhola Silwal during the half-hour mark.
Nepal squandered yet another golden chance to equalize when forward Anil Gurung, a 27th minute replacement for Santosh Sahukhala, tripped over the ball and fell down in the six-yard box after beating past Bangladesh custodian Alam six minutes into the second half.
Nepal could have hit back the equalizer in the injury time of first half, but Bharat Khawas´ header in Jagjeet Shrestha´s corner hit the crossbar. In the 52nd minute Khawas´ flick in Jagjeet Shrestha´s corner met the same fate as it rebounded off the inner edge of the post. Similarly, skipper Sagar Thapa´s freekick from the box in the dying moments was also denied by the woodwork.
“There were some errors in the shape of the team and I am not happy with the way boys controlled the ball,” Stefanowski said.
Bangladesh´s Dutch coach Lodewijk Darius Ke Kruif opined that it was a 50-50 match and both the teams played well. “The first goal was a good one and we were lucky to score the other goal,” Kruif said. “We were under a lot of pressure during the last 35 minutes, but this is football.”
Comparing the two team´s performances Kruif said, “We wanted to build the match from behind [defense] while Nepal tried to play the ball wherever they got. After conceding the first goal Nepal appeared to be in a hurry to hit the equalizer.”
Fans resort to unsporting behavior
The spectators resorted to unsporting behavior during Nepal´s match against Bangladesh on Monday. The parapet of Dasharath Stadium with a capacity of 18,000 was packed with the supporters of Nepal´s national team. But some spectators from the ordinary parapet hurled some objects toward the ground and assistant referee Igor, forcing the match to be halted for five minutes. In the second half also, spectators from the VIP parapet hurled water bottles, coins, mobile phones and other objects toward the ground. In a similar incident during the AFC U-19 Qualifiers held in 2010, AFC had slapped a hefty fine on Nepal.
(Source: The Republica, Kathmandu)