Nepal earn second win over Chinese TaipeiForward Anjan Bista and substitute Nawayug Shrestha score a goal each as coach Almutairi’s team register an identical 2-0 victory over the same opponents to strengthen their grip on the fourth position in Group ‘B’.
Forward Anjan Bista scored against Chinese Taipei for the second match in a row as Nepal notched up a 2-0 victory in the joint qualifiers match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup at the Jaber al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City on Thursday.
Bista and second-half substitute Nawayug Shrestha scored in either half for Nepal as they registered identical 2-0 victories in both legs over Chinese Taipei in their Group ‘B’ match. Forward Bista had scored both goals in the first leg in September 2019 at the Taipei Municipal Stadium. With his three goals against Chinese Taipei, the 23-year-old Bista, who also netted in a 6-2 friendly defeat against Iraq, took his scoring tally to four goals.
The outcome meant Nepal strengthened their grip at the fourth position with six points after playing six matches. Chinese Taipei, 30 spots above Nepal in the FIFA rankings, are at the bottom of the five-team group and have yet to win. Nepal will play against Jordan on Monday and Australia on Friday before the group stage wraps up. They have not earned points against any of the other opponents – Kuwait (in both legs) and Australia and Jordan in the first leg.
In their previous matches, Nepal lost 5-1 to Australia, 3-0 to Jordan and 7-0 and 1-0 to Kuwait.
Nepal opened the scoring with an early fourth-minute penalty after Cheng Hao handled the ball inside the box in his bid to defend Santosh Tamang’s freekick. Bista stepped up to take the resulting penalty and converted against his favourite opponents.
“We were able to win the match and it is more important than me scoring the goal,” said Bista. “We had played with the ambition to win and were able to execute the strategy set by the coach.”
It was also the first victory for Nepal’s coach Abdullah Almutairi who had lost his first match in charge against Iraq during an international friendly. “We had done good research about Chinese Taipei. We were confident that we could control the match if we got an early score. We were successful in our plans,” said the Kuwaiti national. He also dedicated the victory to frontline health workers in Nepal.
Nepal again resorted to a 4-3-3 formation making two changes to the squad that played against Iraq on Saturday. Almutairi started with Sunil Bal in place of Nawayug Shrestha as forward and replaced Manish Dangi with Ashis Lama in the midfield. Dangi, who scored a goal against Iraq, was brought on at the start of second half replacing Lama while Shrestha came in the 69th in place of Bal.
Chinese Taipei could have levelled in the 11th minute but custodian and captain Kiran Limbu denied Wu Chung-Chin’s header from the close range.
Bista created yet another chance in the 24th when he dribbled past two Chinese Taipei defenders but fired straight at goalie Shin Shin-Am.
Chinese Taipei dominated the ball possessions in the second half but they failed to create any remarkable scoring chances.
Dangi’s scorcher in the 80th minute from outside the area sailed inches above the bar.
But Shrestha doubled the advantage for Nepal a minute later when he applied a spectacular one-touch finish to convert a brilliant pass from Suman Aryal.
Nepal created yet another scoring chance in the 86th only for Shrestha to head Santosh Tamang’s freekick above the bar.
Nepal captain Kiran Limbu said there were drastic improvements in the mentality of players after the arrival of the new coach. “He has instilled the confidence that we can play better football, attack and score against any opponents,” said Limbu.
In another match of the group, Australia edged Kuwait 3-0 to strengthen their hold atop the table with 15 points from five matches. Kuwait and Jordan are in second and third place respectively with equal 10 points. Kuwait have played six matches and Jordan five. Nepal are fourth and Chinese Taipei fifth.
The winners of all eight groups and four best runners-up will secure places in the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Finals in China as well as the final round of the World Cup qualifiers. The remaining 24, except for the four bottom-placed teams, who fail to pass the joint Qualifiers hurdle, will have another shot at earning tickets to the AFC Asian Cup. The 24 teams will fight it out for another 12 berths for the Asian Cup.
Nepal are already out of the race of World Cup qualifiers but they could still advance into the next round of Asian Cup qualifiers.