Wasteful Nepal held to goalless draw by Kyrgyzstan U-23The outcome confirms Bangladesh’s berth in the final while the hosts’ fate depends on the outcome of the last match against the South Asian side.
Hosts Nepal were held to a 0-0 draw by 10-man Kyrgyzstan U-23 in the Three Nations Cup at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwor on Thursday as the home side were made to wait until their next fixture against Bangladesh to discover their final fate.
The outcome also confirmed Bangladesh’s spot for the final who had defeated Kyrgyz youth team 1-0 in the tournament opener on Tuesday. Nepal on the other hand need to beat or play a draw against Bangladesh to progress clearly into the final of the event. But even a one goal margin defeat will also secure Nepal’s place in the final. But if the hosts lose by a two-goal margin, they will exit the group stage.
Bangladesh have three points and Nepal one point after playing their first matches, while Kyrgyzstan have one point after playing both matches.
The Nepali national team, playing at the Dasharath Stadium for the first time after six years, dominated the show from the beginning and piled immense pressure. They also played with a numeric advantage after Kyrgyz skipper and defender Tashiev Kamolidin was sent off for second bookable offence in the 67th minute.
Moreover, despite the advantage of home ground and roaring home supporters, the home team failed in the finishing department. They created more than a dozen scoring chances, but failed to hit the target. The national team were deprived to play at the only international standard stadium as it was badly damaged by the 2015 earthquake and was restored in December 2019.
“We failed in the attacking department and we need to improve that in our next match. In fact, the forwards lacked the professionalism required at this level. They lacked patience and tactfulness,” said Nepal’s coach Bal Gopal Maharjan, who has been training the team for the last three months.
Coach Maharjan started with debutant midfielders Sanjog Rai and Tridev Gurung instead of experienced Bishal Rai and Sujal Shrestha and also introduced Nishan Khadka in the national fold for the first time in the second half.
The hosts made a bright start as forward Anjan Bista headed wide from the area as early as the fourth minute in Gurung’s cross. Defender Ananta Tamang’s 10th minute header from the crowded area in Tridev Gurung's corner bounced inches wide.
Nepal got closer to scoring in the 14th minute as striker Bista’s right flank pass bounced back after hitting the post before teammates Avishek Rijal and midfielder Gurung found the ball. In the 32nd, Kyrgyz goalie Priadkin Artem easily caught debutant Sanjog Rai's header in Ranjit Dhimal cross.
Two minutes later, Anjan Bista's half-volley from the edge of the area after controlling Rai's pass floated off the target by a whisker.
Five minutes into the restart, defender Tamang's bouncing header in Tridev Gurung's corner was caught by goalie Artem. In the 53rd, Nepal forced Kyrgyz goalie Artem out of the box on a counter attack as the ball released by goalie Limbu found Gurung only for the custodian to come out of his zone to deny the midfielder.
In the 62nd, Rohit's powerful header from the crowded area in Ranjit Dhimal freekick went wide. Dinesh Rajbanshi, substitute Darshan Gurung and Sujal Shrestha also wasted scoring opportunities in the second half.
Nepal had made five changes in the second half, bringing in winger Sujal Shrestha, striker Bharat Khawas, Darshan Gurung, Nishan Khadka and Bishal Rai, but they all failed to make an impact.
Kyrgyzstan coach Zholdoshov Nurbek congratulated his players for their ‘good performance’. “The game changed after our captain was sent off and it was difficult for us to play,” he said, adding that he was glad at the courage of his team. “I hope the last game between Nepal and Bangladesh will be competitive and fair,” he added.
Nepal’s coach Maharjan said that he, however, was happy with the performance of his side and the new players. “We need to improve our mistakes when we play Bangladesh next. We will play for at least a point,” said Maharjan.