New-look Nepal lose against Jordan in Asian Cup qualifiersAlmutairi’s side, who travelled to Kuwait without 11 senior players, suffer a 2-0 defeat.
A new-look Nepali football team suffered a 2-0 defeat against Jordan in the opening match of the third and final round of the AFC Asian Cup Group ‘A’ Qualifiers at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City on Wednesday.
Aliiyad Olwan’s composed finish midway into the game and a late penalty from Hamza Ali Aldaradreh gave Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad’s men a flying start in Group A.
Nepal had travelled to Kuwait without 11 senior players including captain and goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu and vice-captain and midfielder-cum-defender Rohit Chand. They were left out of the squad for the qualifying campaign after 10 of them, except Limbu, were forced to leave the camp following a spat with coach Abdullah Almutairi over accommodation arrangements.
With first choice goalie Limbu and second choice glovesman Bishal Shrestha missing the tour, Almutairi kept his faith in Deep Karki at the end line and the Himalayan Sherpa goalie returned the favour blocking a penalty from Mousa Mohammad Suleiman towards the end of the first half to keep the tie against Jordan goalless. Jordan were awarded the penalty after defender Gautam Shrestha had fouled Mohammad Faisal Zraiq in the penalty box.
Tribhuvan Army Club defender Bikash Tamang also made his debut in the national colours while Suman Aryal, Bikash Khawas and Gautam Shrestha lined up alongside Tamang in the defence line as regulars Ananta Tamang, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Chand and Devendra Tamang were all left out.
Oliwan should have put Jordan ahead in the first half when Yazan Abdallah Alnaimat broke through the heart of Nepali defence and set up the unmarked Oliwan, who ended up firing a tame shot that Nepal goalie Karki caught comfortably.
Hamad’s men kept the tempo on Almutairi’s youth team and kept the new-look defence busy throughout the game.
But Nepal gave a Jordanian side, who are ranked 77 positions higher than them, a hard time finding the net until Oliwan broke the deadlock in the 69th minute.
Midfielder Suleiman controlled a long ball on the left, beat two defenders and cut inside to set up Oliwan just outside the six yard box and the Jordanian forward made no mistake this time, sending the ball low into the far post.
Aldaradreh doubled the lead from the penalty spot in the 82nd minute. Aryal brought down Sulieman inside the area and the referee did not hesitate to point towards the spot kick for the ugly tackle from the defender.
Aldaradreh stepped up this time and sent goalkeeper Karki the wrong way to inflict Nepal a fourth loss in their fifth meeting.
Nepal had played a 1-1 draw at home against Jordan in World Cup qualifiers in 2011. Five days prior to earning the surprise draw, Nepal had lost 9-0 away to Jordan. Nepal also succumbed to 3-0 defeats against Jordan at Al-Hasan in 2019 and in Kuwait in 2021, both in World Cup qualifiers. Nepal’s only goal against Jordan had come from Bharat Khawas at the Dasharath Stadium.
The win means Jordan moved to the top of four-team Group A standings with three points. Indonesia, who had stunned hosts Kuwait 2-1 earlier on the day, sit in the second position due to inferior goal difference.
Nepal lie at the bottom. Almutairi’s side will play Kuwait on June 11 and Indonesia on June 14.
The winners of all six groups (Group A to F) and the five teams with best records qualify for the Asian Cup finals.
China, who were scheduled to host the 24-team tournament in June-July next year, gave up the hosting rights in May citing “exceptional circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”. The new host nation is yet to be decided.
Twelve countries who qualified for the final round of Asia's preliminaries for the World Cup have already booked their tickets to the Asian Cup finals.