By Anjan Khadka Kathmandu, Mar. 26 : Nepali strikers failed to utilise a dozen of goal scoring chances as they were held to a 0-0 draw against 10-man Kyrgyzstan Olympic team at Three Nations Cup 2021 at Dashrath Stadium, Kathmandu on Thursday.
After sharing a point with Kyrgyz, Nepal now have to win their second match against regional rival Bangladesh on Saturday to secure their spot in the final. With a win over Kyrgyz, Bangladesh have already booked their berth in the final to be played on Monday. The top two teams from the round-robin league will advance into the final.
Abilov Ernaz of Kyrgyzstan was declared the Man of the Match for his remarkable performance against the home team. Nepal's national football team returned to the home ground Dashrath Stadium after six years, but they couldn't make it memorable.
Host Nepal were on onslaught from the kick-off whistle by dominating Kyrgyzstan's U-23 team. Mid-fielders duo Sanjog Rai, Tir Dev Gurung and defender Nishan Khadka made their debut in the national jersey. Nepal's national team acting head coach Bal Gopal Maharjan included both Rai and Gurung in the first 11 against the Kyrgyzstan Olympic team.
Anjan Bista was closer to goals many times but all of his attempts could not find the back of the net.
Bista's close-range header from inside the box went inches wide in the fourth minute. Anant Tamang's fine header came off from Sanjog Rai's cross too went wide in the 11th minutes.
Unmarked striker Abhishek Rijal and mid-fielder Tir Dev Gurung also squandered the chances in the 14th minutes.
Nepal continued with a flurry of attacks but Bista yet again failed to find the target in the 34th minutes after his powerful strike from just outside the box went wide.
As strikers failed to give the ball the right direction to the post, the first half ended in a goalless stalemate. Kyrgyzstan goalie made a brilliant save to the close-range header of Anant Tamang. Defender Tamang headed the cross ball off Tir Dev Gurung in the 50th minutes.
Mid-fielder Borubaev Guizhigit failed to put the Kyrgyz ahead in the 52nd minute as his powerful free-kick from outside the box skied from the crossbar. He got another free-kick opportunity a minute later but his strike was warded off by Nepali shot-stopper Kiran Chemjong.
Rohit Chand's header to the free-kick off Rejin Dhimal also could not get the direction of the post in the 62nd minute. Bista again wasted the strike sending the ball wide from the second pole minute later.
Visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 67th minutes after their captain Tashiev Kamolidin faced a double yellow card. He brought down Nepal's striker Abhishek Rijal.
Yet again Nepal failed to take a lead in the 79th minutes as defender Anant Tamang's bicycle kick to the long throw ball off Rohit Chand was easily saved by Kyrgyzstan goalie Priadkin Artem.
Kyrgyzstan coach Zholdoshov Nurbek was all in praise of his players for holding the host in a dour draw.
"After our skipper was sent up facing a double yellow card, we fell in trouble but my boys held their nerve to stop the host team. We aimed for victory but the host played a fast match and playing against the senior Nepali team is tough for us."
He hoped the battle between Nepal and Bagladesh will be fair.
After a goalless draw against visitors, Nepal's acting head coach Bal Gopal Maharjan expressed his satisfaction with the performance with his boys. He blamed his forwards and mid-fielders for making mistakes in the opponent's box.
"I have selected Nepal's best team for the tourney. We created a lot of chances against visitors but we failed to convert them."Maharjan conceded that the strikers were toothless today. He hoped the strikers would improve their scoring ability against Bangladesh.