After Bahrain, Nepal looks forward to second leg against UAE, Yemen


Kathmandu, Mar. 28: Nepal lost both legs against Bahrain in the Second Round of the FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. While Nepal was unable to score a single goal in both legs, Bahrain scored five goals in the first leg (Nepal’s home match) played on March 22 and three in the second leg on March 27.

Nepal is the only team to not have scored a single goal past their opponents in four matches of the Qualifiers’ Second Round. 

With 36 teams in nine groups having played four matches each by Wednesday, Nepal is at the bottom of Group H. Nepal is among the three teams alongside Chinese Taipei (Group D) and Pakistan (Group G) that have not won a single match in their respective group. 

Before competing in two matches against Bahrain and conceding eight goals, Nepal faced the UAE on November 16, 2023, and Yemen on November 21, 2023. The UAE and Yemen scored four goals and two goals against Nepal respectively in the first leg when Nepal played an away match against the UAE and hosted Yemen. 

As per the fixtures, Nepal will host the UAE on June 6 and visit Yemen on June 11. 

Will Nepal host the UAE?

Nepal has to host the UAE for the second leg as it is Nepal’s home match. However, as Nepal could not host Bahrain after stadium issues and played the home match in Bahrain, there is a minimal chance for Nepal to be able to host the UAE.

Nepal could not host Bahrain after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), in February, communicated that Nepal’s only international-standard football stadium Dasharath Rangasala’s ground was unfit and suspended international matches on it.

The news had left Nepali football fans in dismay as they could not watch the national stars play on the home turf. 

Despite the scenario, there have been no effective steps taken by the authorities to repair the ground and have the suspension revoked at least a fortnight before the date to host the UAE. 

Nepal out of Second Round

The Asian Qualifiers have been divided into five rounds. After the First Round ended, the Second Round is underway. 

Among the 36 teams divided into nine groups in the Second Round, the top two teams of each group, i.e. 18 teams, will progress to the Third Round. The 18 teams will be divided into three groups of six and the top two teams from each section will qualify for the 2026 World Cup.

The UAE has won all four matches and sits at the top of Group I with 12 points. Bahrain, with three wins, is in second position with nine points. Nepal has not earned any points and sits at the bottom of the group. 

With no chance of progressing to the Third Round even by winning the remaining two matches, Nepal is now formally out of the tournament. Defeating the UAE and Yemen will be a herculean task for Nepal; however, Vincenzo Alberto Annese will still be looking forward the team to scoring goals against the two better teams.

Nevertheless, Nepal is less likely to play any international friendlies or tournaments before the matches against the UAE and Yemen making the team less prepared.

Second leg against Bahrain

Bahrain, in the second leg, was not able to score as much as in the first leg against Nepal. While Nepal tasted a 5-0 defeat in the first leg, the squad was able to hold Bahrain to 3-0 in the second leg.

Nepal conceded the three goals until 36 minutes in the first half and was able to prevent the score from extending until the 90 minutes of the game.

Kiran Chemjong saved a shot in the early second minute. However, Bahrain forced open the goal account in the seventh minute. Sayed Baqer gave Bahrain the lead as his low-power shot got deflected by the leg of Ananta Tamang bamboozling Kiran.

Bahrain was awarded a penalty after Kiran committed a foul inside the 18-yard box. Converting the penalty, Abdulla Yusuf Helal extended the lead to two goals in the 18th minute. 

With Kamil Al Aswad scoring the third goal in the 36th minute, the match saw no further goals until the end. 

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