Nepal exit Asian Cup Qualifiers with defeatAlmutairi’s side succumb to a 7-0 loss against Indonesia.
Ten-man Nepal ended their third and final round of the AFC Asian Cup Group ‘A’ Qualifiers with an embarrassing 7-0 defeat by Indonesia in Kuwait City, Kuwait on Tuesday.
Witan Sulaeman scored a brace while Muhamad Dimas Drajad, Fachruddin Aryanto, Saddil Ramdani, Elkan Baggott and Marselino Ferdinan were all on target as the Tim Garuda inflicted Abdullah Almutairi’s team a third loss in as many matches and qualified for the Asian Cup 2023 for the first time since 2007.
Indonesia’s previous appearances in Asia finals came in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2007.
For Nepal, their Asian Cup dreams still remain a far cry having never qualified for the continental championship in their footballing history.
Almutairi’s Nepal tenure is already hanging by a thread, with recommendations for his sacking already being sounded out especially after an ugly dressing room spat with players over accommodation arrangements forced ten senior national footballers out of the training camp just a month prior the qualifiers.
The coach travelled to Kuwait without 11 senior players including captain and goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu, who was not in Nepal when the tensions broke out but was quick to voice his support to his teammates, vice-captain Rohit Chand, Sujal Shrestha, Bishal Shrestha, Bishal Rai, Anjan Bista, Ananta Tamang, Tej Tamang, Suman Lama, Dinesh Rajbanshi and Bimal Gharti Magar.
And their vulnerability was exposed again at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium when Drajad put Indonesia ahead six minutes into the game heading Asnawi Bahar’s cross into the bottom far corner.
Nepal were reduced to 10 men in the 33rd minute after defender Suman Aryal was sent off for a second bookable offence when he brought down Bahar with a raised foot.
Indonesia doubled their lead in the 43rd when Sulaeman finished off a pass from Bahar after good work from Drajad.
The Garuda furthered their advantage in the 54th minute after a goalkeeping effort from Deep Karki allowed Fachruddin to convert from close range a cross from Marselino Ferdinan.
The Indonesian made it 4-0 a minute later after Ramdani volleyed over goalie Deep Karki, who came too far from the post to unsuccessfully ward off the danger posed by a chipped pass from Muhammad Rafli.
Elkan Baggot stretched the lead to 5-0 in the 80th when his left-footed shot from the edge of the area beat goalie Karki into the bottom corner.
Sulaeman made it 6-0 in the 81st minute latching past Karki after Ricky Kambuaya dispossessed Nepali opponents quickly after the kick off and fed Sulaeman.
Ferdinan wrapped the third round qualifiers’ biggest victory by margin, darting a low shot from the edge of the area, after he was set up by Rafli.
Nepal had lost to Jordan 2-0 and hosts Kuwait 4-1 in their previous group matches.
Indonesia qualified as one of the five best runners up alongside Thailand (Group C), Hong Kong (Group D), Malaysia (Group E) and Kyrgyzstan (Group F). Jordan (Group A), Palestine (Group B), Uzbekistan (Group C), India (Group D), Bahrain (Group E) and Tajikistan (Group F) qualified as group winners.
The 11 teams will join defending champions Qatar, Australia, China, Iran, Iraq, Japan, South Korea, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam in the Asian Cup finals.
China were scheduled to host the 24-team tournament in June-July next year but 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.