Jordan dent Nepal’s bid to progress furtherThe 3-0 defeat at the Al Kuwait Sports Club leaves the South Asian side with an almost impossible task of defeating Australia in their next match to keep afloat their faint hopes of securing a direct berth into the third round of Asian Cup qualifiers.
Nepal’s ambition for a direct entry into the next round of Asian Cup Qualifying got a huge blow after they lost 3-0 against Jordan for the second time in their Group ‘B’ joint qualifiers match of the World Cup 2022 and Asian Cup 2023 in Kuwait on Monday.
Forward Baha’ Faisal Seif struck twice including a penalty goal for the dominant West Asian side who sit 76 places above Nepal in the FIFA world rankings. Defender Yazan Alarab netted the third at the Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium in Kuwait City to replicate the same scoreline victory of the first leg played in October 2019 in Amman.
The outcome left Nepal unchanged at fourth position in the five-team group with six points after identical 2-0 victories over Chinese Taipei in both legs and also effectively ended Nepal’s mathematical chances of qualifying for next stage of World Cup qualifiers.
Nepal must beat leaders Australia, who have maintained a perfect record and are already assured of World Cup Qualifiers third round, in their last group match to keep afloat their faint hopes of securing direct berth into the third round of Asian Cup qualifiers as one of the best four fourth-placed teams from all eight groups.
The Nepal-Australia match is set to take place on Friday and, for Nepal, it is an almost impossible task to beat the opponents who had edged them 5-0 in the first leg in October 2019 in Canberra. Along with victory over Australia, the South Asian minnows also need to hope for favourable results in other groups for a direct entry into the third round of the Asian qualifiers or else they will have to go through playoffs.
Nepal struck with their offensive formation of 4-3-3 but never produced any real threat at the opponents’ post. Defender Rohit Chand was at fault for the opening goal while goalie Kiran Limbu conceded a 35-yard freekick for the second goal.
Nepal’s Kuwaiti coach Abdullah Almutairi deployed Avishek Rijal in the attack for the first time pairing him with Anjan Bista and promoted midfielder Suman Lama up front while resting Nawayug Shrestha and Aashish Lama. Defender Suman Aryal was paired with Pujan Uprakoti and Santosh Tamang in the midfield. Aryal started with Bikash Khawas and Dinesh Rajbanshi for the first time in the defence line-up along with Ananta Tamang and Rohit Chand.
However, the changes could not make much difference as Nepal came under pressure from the outset and the ball was played in the Nepal’s half for most of the time. The only positive aspect was Nepal tried to build their match with short passes even at their own half and around their own area.
“I will never stay in the box as we wanted to play balanced football. We tried our best today but we made one mistake conceding a penalty. The outcome would be otherwise if they had not got the penalty,” Almutairi said at the post match conference.
Nepal’s custodian Limbu survived a scare in the 14th minute when he made a diving save to palm away Mousa Mohammad Suleiman scorcher from outside the box. Jordan broke the deadlock in the 24th minute with a penalty after defender Chand fouled Suleiman inside the area prompting the referee to point towards the spot. Forward Seif converted the resulting penalty with a powerful drive.
In the first leg as well, Jordan had opened the scoring with a penalty in their capital city.
Nepal’s defender Khawas was replaced in the 30th minute by Sunil Bal after he picked up an injury.
Suleiman came closer to scoring in the first half injury time as he dribbled past three Nepali defenders but fired above the bar.
Seif doubled the advantage four minutes into the second half with a 35-yard freekick at the far post leaving goalie Limbu stunned.
Nepal made three replacements in the 58th minute bringing in forward Nawayug Shrestha, midfielders Bishal Rai and Arik Bista in places of Pujan Uprekoti, Santosh Tamang and Dinesh Rajbanshi.
Jordan netted their third goal in the 67th minute when defender Yazan Alarab made a bouncing header capitalising on a freekick.
Jordan coach Vital Borkelmans questioned the quality of the pitch and said: “We deserved more goals today. I give big compliments to my team. They worked hard and created lots of chances.”
It was the third defeat for Nepal against Jordan in their four meetings. Nepal had gone down 9-0 in their first ever meeting in July 2011 in Amman during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, but five days later they held Jordan to a 1-1 draw at home in Kathmandu.