Nepal put on improved display, but lose 1-0 to KuwaitCaptain Chemjong says referee’s contentious decisions cost Nepal dear in the crucial tie.
Nepal suffered a 1-0 defeat to Kuwait in their home fixture of the FIFA World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifier at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimpu, Bhutan on Tuesday.
Bader al-Mutwa scored in the 28th minute which turned out the decisive goal of the match. The Kuwait captain beat Nepal custodian Kiran Chemjong with a stunner from just outside the 18-yard box after losing his markers.
Nepal, who had suffered a 7-0 humiliation at the hands of Kuwaitis in their previous game, had several chances to equalise in the opening half but failed to capitalise on them due to poor finishing.
Nepal, playing without four key players, put in an improved performance enjoying much of the possession. Forward Bimal Gharti Magar, midfielders Anjan Bista and Santosh Tamang, and defender Dinesh Rajbanshi were dropped from the squad in disciplinary action. The players were found to have visited night clubs on the eve of their departure to Bhutan.
The team lacked sharpness in front of the goal that put paid to their chances on either side of half time. Subash Gurung made his first international debut for Nepal as he was brought on by head coach Kalin to replace Tej Tamang in the 88th minute.
"We gave our all until the final whistle," said goalkeeper Chemjong after the match. The Nepal team captain was unhappy with some of the referee’s decisions and he was seen having a brief conversation with the match officials after the match. "We were hard done by some wrong decisions that went against us."
However, Chemjong took the heart out of the team's performance, as he said, "We played well, and in fact, we should have won today. We should have at least shared the points. We feel sad about the result, but we will focus on the remaining three matches."
Kalin’s deputy Kiran Shrestha was content with Nepal’s performance. “Boys went out with a positive attitude and which was reflected on the ground. A point would have been a fair result but we failed to take our opportunities.”
“We will work on the mistakes we committed today and will focus on the remaining matches,” Shrestha added.
Football analyst Sanjeeb Mishra echoed Chemjong on dubious decisions by match officials. “A foul on Abhishek Rijal was a clear penalty.” Mishra noted, “Nepal should have won the match. It was a much better performance, but the team failed to convert the set pieces.”
The win takes Kuwait to the second place in ‘Group B’ with 10 points from five matches, ahead of Jordan who have seven points and a game in hand. Australia lead group with 12 points from four games. Nepal, who had a win against Taiwan and four losses, are fourth with three points, while Taiwan have yet to earn a point after four games.
Nepal will play all three remaining ties of the qualifiers at home, beginning with Taiwan on March 26, 2020. The Australia game will be the next five days later, followed by a tie against Jordan on June 4.
Winners of each of the eight groups and four best second-place finishers will advance to the Asian Cup 2023 finals and the third round of the World Cup qualifiers.