Nepal, India settle for drawAnjan Bista put the hosts in front but Anirudh Thapa’s equaliser denied coach Almutairi’s team a chance of defeating the South Asian giants for the first time in eight years.
Hosts Nepal settled for a 1-1 draw against South Asian giants India after they conceded second half equaliser in the first international friendly at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwar on Thursday.
Nepal could not realise their ambition of beating India for the first time after eight years after India equalised in the 61st minute through substitute forward Anirudh Thapa. Nepal's captain and goalie Kiran Kumar Limbu was at fault for the goal.
Earlier, winger Anjan Bista had given lead to Nepal in the 36th taking advantage of poor backpass to Indian custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu from teammate Chinglensana Singh Konsham.
Hosts Nepal, who had defeated India 2-1 in the 2013 SAFF Championship last time at the same venue, came up with swift passes at the wet outfield of the Dasharath Stadium in the evenly contested affair. It was the 20th encounter between the two sides. In their previous fixtures, Nepal have won two, lost 13 and drawn four matches.
Goalie Limbu also equalled former captain Biraj Maharjan's record of highest 73 caps for Nepal. He made debut for the national team in 2008 AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers in Cambodia.
Both sides could not create remarkable chances in the first half an hour. Nepal opened scoring in the 36th after Bista collected Indian defender Konsham's back pass to goalie Sandhu inside the area and comfortably dribbled past the shot stopper before shooting at the open net.
Nepal created yet another chance in the first half stoppage time before Suman Lama ended up applying a feeble shot on goal from the area forcing Indian custodian Sandhu for a diving save.
Hurt by the goal they conceded, India made four changes at the start of the second half bringing in Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Seriton Fernandes and Rahim Ali. They piled pressure in the early quarter after the break.
Nepal survived a scare in the 51st minute when Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri was denied by Limbu in Thapa's freekick. The goalie was forced to rush out of the area and blocked the ball with his hand before being shown a yellow.
Two minutes later India captain Chhetri missed yet another scoring chance as his header in Glan Peter Martins' cross flew wide. India restored parity in the 61st after Chhetri's 25-yard scorcher landed just ahead of the goalline as the ball punched by Nepal custodian Limbu failed to cross the bar. Substitute Thapa rushed to the ball and sent it to the back of the net.
India's Manvir Singh threatened in the 83rd minute but his strike at the far post from a crowded area missed the target. In the stoppage time, Nepal's Kamal Thapa's header in Suman Aryal’s cross went wide.
Nepal made five changes in the mid second half and gave debut to midfielder Nitin Thapa. He replaced Tej Tamang in the 85th minute.
India's Croatian coach Igor Stimac said that his side were better in the game and they deserved to win. "The pitch condition, defensive approach and counter attack were key to Nepal's performance," said Stimac. "We were better in the second half after making four changes."
Nepal's Kuwaiti coach Abdullah Almutairi who had promised to win the match and make Nepali proud of their team apologised for the outcome. "I am sorry to Nepali people," he said, claiming that his side were better for 80 minutes of the game.
The second friendly between the two sides will be played on Sunday.