Nepal held to 0-0 draw by Bangladesh, lose the two-match seriesNepal’s goal drought continues for the sixth match in a row as they have not scored a goal after beating Chinese Taipei 2-0 in September 2019 in an away game.
Nepal’s long wait for an international goal continued as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Bangladesh in the second and final of the two friendlies at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka on Tuesday. The hosts won the first game on Friday 2-0.
Nepal came up with much improved performance in the second match. But they failed in the finishing department to ultimately lose the series. With the outcome Nepal’s goal drought continued for the sixth match in a row as they have not scored a goal for more than a year. The last time Nepal scored a goal was during their 2-0 victory over Chinese Taipei in the joint qualifier match of FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup in September 2019.
Despite playing with a lone full-time forward like in the previous match, Nepal played pressing game and created few scoring chances in an evenly contested affair. The visitors made five changes in the starting lineup in comparison to last game. Veteran forward and skipper Bharat Khawas and Darshan Gurung, defenders Ranjit Dhimal and Tshiring Gurung along with midfielder Arik Bista made starts.
Darshan was one among the three debutants for Nepal along with second half substitutes Pujan Uparkoti and Sesehang Angdangbe. Experienced Dhimal was badly missed in the last match as he was diagnosed with coronavirus ahead of the first match, but was cleared to play in the second as he tested negative in Saturday’s test. Dhimal’s inclusion in the team gave much relief to caretaker coach Bal Gopal Maharjan who was frustrated with his fragile back-line in the previous outing.
Captain Khawas was replaced as early as in the 19th minute by his clubmate Nawayug Shrestha of the Tribhuvan Army Club. Nepal created only two remarkable moves in the Bangladeshi team’s goalpost and Shrestha had a key role on both occasions.
Bangladesh threatened Nepal in the 23rd minute when forward Suman Reza’s scorcher just from outside the penalty area sailed inches above the bar. Custodian Kiran Chemjong came to the rescue for the visitors in the 31st as he again denied Reza’s low ball tap in from the area with a diving save.
Two minutes later Nepal produced a threat in the home team’s area only for defender Ananta Tamang, almost in an unmarked position inside the area, to head Bista’s corner wide. Midfielder Uparkoti replaced Tej Tamang at the start of second half to make his debut in the national colours.
Nepal squandered a chance to take lead in the 56th minute as striker Shrestha failed to connect to Tshiring’s pass in the zone with only Bangladesh custodian Ashraful Islam Rana to beat. In the 73rd, Nepal made twin substitutions fielding Sesehang Angdangbe in place of Darshan Gurung and Ravishankar Paswan coming in for Anjan Bista. It was the first national cap for Angdangbe. Bimal Rana replaced Sujal Shrestha in the 89th minute.
Nepal came closer to breaking the deadlock in the third minute of the four-minute stoppage time only for forward Shrestha to see his header rebound from the pole fed by defender Dhimal.
The series was played as part of the South Asian team’s preparation for the qualifier matches of the FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup. The matches under the friendly series were the first competitive games for Nepal 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 four regular starters–three of them ruled out after testing positive for coronavirus and one injured during training before leaving for Bangladesh.