Dangi stunner secures win for NepalThe 20-year-old scores the solo goal four minutes from time as Nepal national football team stun hosts Maldives 1-0 to make a winning start in the SAFF Championship.
A stunning goal from young forward Manish Dangi deep into the second half drew the distinction line between Nepal and hosts Maldives as the visiting side registered 1-0 victory in the SAFF Championship at the National Football Stadium in Male on Friday.
The victory was special for Nepal as they not only made a winning start in the tournament, but also made a strong statement of their intent by defeating the defending champions at their home turf. It was Nepal's first victory over Maldives in the sub-continental tournament among eight games played so far and first after 22 years.
Nepal's last victory over the South Asian opponents came during the semi-final of 1999 South Asian Games in Kathmandu.
The 20-year-old Dangi, who came as the 80th minute replacement for Nawayug Shrestha, made a sensational finish in the 86th minute to stun the home team. Dangi scored in counter attack dribbling past two opponent defenders before slamming a low strike past goalie Mohamed Faisal.
The goal sparked wild celebrations among the Nepali team and the staff. Dangi rushed towards coach Abdullah Almutairi and hugged him.
The Kuwaiti coach is responsible for identifying Dangi’s talent and including him in the national camp. Now Dangi has repaid Almutairi’s faith in him by scoring the second goal in the national jersey. He scored his first goal in his friendly international debut against Iraq in May.
Asked about his sensational finish, Dangi said: "However the goal might be, it was Team Nepal's goal and not just mine," he said.
Coach Almutairi, who usually prefers attacking style play, came up with a defensive approach this time. Apart from four defenders in Ananta Tamang, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Gautam Shrestha and Suman Aryal, he chose to start with defensive natured midfielders in Rohit Chand, Pujan Uparkoti and Tej Tamang. Anjan Bista and Sujal Shrestha, meanwhile, paired with Nawayug Shrestha upfront with captain Kiran Chemjong in charge of the goal.
The compact defence line proved too strong for Maldives to break. Despite dominating the ball possession and piling consistent pressure, they failed to get on the scoresheet. Nepal soaked pressure throughout the game while looking for goal scoring opportunities through counter attacks, a strategy which paid off.
Nepal will play against Sri Lanka in their next match on Monday at the same venue. Five South Asian teams are participating in the tournament which is being played in a round-robin format. The teams finishing on top two positions will play for the crown on October 16.