Nepal, held by Hong Kong, bow out of Asian QualifiersNepali women’s team settle for a goalless draw against Hong Kong in their second group match after a 2-1 defeat to the Philippines in the three-team group on Saturday.
Nepal's ambition of reaching the finals of the AFC Women's Asian Cup shattered after they settled for a goalless draw against Hong Kong in their second Qualifiers match at the JAR Stadium in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Tuesday.
Nepal, who had gone down 2-1 against the Philippines after late goals on Saturday, needed a win to keep their qualifying hopes afloat for the finals. However, their push for victory remained unfulfilled in the three-team Group 'F' which only guarantees the table toppers a place in the finals next year.
The outcome meant Nepal collected one point after their last match while the Philippines have three points and Hong Kong one point. Nepal played both group stage games while Hong Kong and the Philippines will vie in their last group match on Friday. The outcome of the match will determine the team for the finals to be held next year.
Nepal, playing in the absence of defender Puja Rana after a knee injury in the first match and star forward Sabitra Bhandari, who is out of action since April due to a ligament injury in February, struggled in the finishing department against the opponents placed 76th in FIFA world rankings. Nepal are 101st ranked side.
Bimala BK started in place of Rana as Australia coach Gary Phillips retained the remaining 10 players who featured in the first match against the Philippines. Preeti Rai, Bimala Chaudhary and Sabita Rana were deployed upfront while BK lined up along with Hira Kumari Bhujel, Amrita Jaisi and Gita Rana in the midfield. Captain Renuka Nagarkote, Saru Limbu and Manjali Kumari Yonjan were deployed midfielders.
Nepal made four attempts at goal in the first half and also struck the goalpost. In their push for goal, coach Phillips replaced forward Preeti Rai with Anita Basnet. However, the change could not make an impact on Nepal's quest for a goal.
Nepal were competing in the AFC Women's Championship for the first time after 22 years. The last time they competed in the event was in 1999 in the Philippines when they had lost all four group matches. Before that, Nepal had competed twice in 1986 and 1989 where they lost all six group stage games — three each in each edition.
It was also the first meeting between Nepal and Hong Kong since 1989 and third overall. In their last encounter in 1989, Hong Kong had edged Nepal 3-0 and 1-0 in 1986.