Nepal lose first of two friendlies against BangladeshVisitors concede a goal each in both the halves to face defeat against the South Asian foes.
An under strength Nepali football team’s first international outing in the Covid-19 era could not fetch a satisfactory outcome as they lost 2-0 to Bangladesh in a friendly in Dhaka on Friday.
The second fixture of the two-match series will be played at the same venue, the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Tuesday.
This was the first competitive match for the Nepali side since their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Kuwait on November 19 last year. The home team had also not featured in an international fixture since October last year.
Nepal played in the absence of five regular starters–four of them ruled out after testing positive for coronavirus and one injured during training before leaving for Bangladesh. The visitors conceded a goal each in both the halves. It was Nepal’s first defeat against Bangladesh since losing to the South Asian rivals in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in 2013.
Moreover, Nepali players prepared for just a week at home and trained for four training sessions in Dhaka.
With the team opting for four defenders, five midfielders and a lone forward in Nawayug Shrestha, Nepal appeared to have prepared to play defensive. But the strategy didn’t pay off as the visitors could neither hold their fort nor threaten the opponent’s goalpost.
Defender Bikash Khawas, who made it to the starting XI, was one among three debutants for the
national side. Arik Bista and Darshan Gurung were the other two players to don the national jersey for the first time
“We couldn’t create much chance attacking, but I am satisfied with the performance and the result of the friendly doesn’t matter much,” Nepal’s head coach Bal Gopal Maharjan said after the match. “My boys came into the match at the back of a very short training period. They also lacked match fitness, confidence and experience. We have a match to play in a few days and we will try to amend our shortcomings.”
The physically superior Bangladeshi team dominated possession and kept Nepali defenders busy throughout the first half. They came up with an improved show after the interval.
The home team opened the scoring as early as in the 10th minute when forward Mohammad Nabin Newaz Ziban produced a clinical finish from the area. Ziban made a quick turn and applied a one-touch strike to convert Md Saad Uddin’s cross leaving custodian Kiran Chemjong clueless.
Nepali forward Shrestha threatened the home team in the 17th minute before, but he ended up firing off target. In the 27th minute, goalkeeper Chemjong caught Manik Mollah’s long range strike. Four minutes later Ziban could have doubled the lead for the home team but he ended up firing inches wide. In the 39th, Nepal’s Anjan Bista applied a feeble shot only for goalie Anisur Rahman to pounce on it.
Arik Bista replaced Bikram Lama in the midfield for his debut appearance for the national squad in the 42nd minute after the latter picked up an injury. Forward Shrestha was replaced by George Prince Karki in the second half. Veteran striker Bharat Khawas was called in the 72nd minute as substitute, but his impact wasn’t felt on the pitch.
Bangladesh doubled their advantage in the 80th minute as substitute Mahbubur Rahman sealed victory for his side scoring in a counter attack.
“We could have scored three or four goals in the first half,” Bangladesh’s British coach Jamie Day said. “Nepal performed better in the second half and It was a tough game. The match would be helpful for our World Cup and Asian Cup qualifier matches.”
It was Nepal’s first defeat against the South Asian foes since 2013 when they lost to Bangladesh with an identical scoreline in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers. The two sides played each other twice after that—in the 2013 and 2018 SAFF Championships— with Nepal defeating Bangladesh on both the occasions.