Thursday, 5 August, 2021

Nepal cruise into Three Nations Cup final

Tirdev Gurung of Nepal (blue) and Riyadul Hasan of Bangladesh vying for the ball during the Three Nations Cup 2021 Football Tournament held at Dasharath Stadium, Kathmandu on Saturday. (Photo: Bikash/TRN)

By Anjan Khadka, Kathmandu, Mar. 28: Nepal fixed the title clash of Three Nations Cup 2021 against Bangladesh after playing a goalless draw in their last league match held at Dasharath Stadium, Kathmandu on Saturday.

Nepal secured their spot at the final after finishing their league round at the second position with two points from two matches they played. Nepal settled for a goalless draw against the Central Asian nation Kyrgyzstan Olympic team two days ago.

Bangladesh, who had already booked their place in the final, finished the league round at the top with four points. Bangladesh edged Kyrgyzstan 1-0 in their first match. Kyrgyzstan crashed out of the tournament.

Nepal's defender Rohit Chand was declared the Man of the Match for his remarkable performance against Bangladesh. Nepal's goal drought stretched over 568 minutes as they were unable to find the goal after Anjan Bista scored against Chinese Taipei during their FIFA World Cup 2022 and Asian Cup Qualifiers held in Chinese Taipei last year.

Wasteful Nepal squandered as many goal chances with too many wayward shots. Bista's close-range header to the cross ball off Tir Dev Gurung went wide from the cross-bar in the 21st minutes.

Gurung's close-range shot to Abhishek Rijal's assist too failed to see the direction of the opponent's post in the 24th minutes. Bangladesh also came closer to the goal a couple of time but all in vain. Skipper Jamal Bhuyan squandered his 25-yard distance free-kick in the 40th minutes.

After the entry of mid-fielder duo Sunil Bal and Bishal Rai in 56th minutes, Nepal gained tempo in their attack. Bangladeshi shot-stopper Sahidul Alam easily foiled the poor shot off unmarked striker Bista in the 69th minutes.

Striker Rijal's header from the box too could not find the back of the net in the 65th minute. Unmarked Rijal yet again failed to score from the box in a Dinesh Rajbanshi cross.

The second choice player Darshan Gurung also failed to score as his close-range header hit the woodwork in the 81st minutes. Mid-fielder duo Sanjog Rai and Tir Dev Gurung made their international debut today. Similarly, defender Nishan Khadka also made his international debut as a substitute in the 71st minute. Rai and Tir Dev both were included in the first 11.

Bangladesh head coach James Day said that the match was very tight. "It is a tough game. My players played well against the host but we faced pressure in the second half." Coach James Day added all the teams of Asia have a scoring problem.

Nepal's acting head coach Bal Gopal Maharjan said the plan to earn a point to secure the final's berth has been successful. "We are under pressure in the first half. We, however, made comeback in the second half. Though we are successful in executing, we again have scoring problems."

Maharjan expressed his confidence in winning the title by scoring against Bangladesh.