Nepal ousted from group stageNepal draw 1-1 against table toppers Bangladesh before hosts India edge Maldives 1-0.
Nepal failed to realise their dream of entering Under20 SAFF Championship final as they played 1-1 draw to Bangladesh before India saw off the Maldives 1-0 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on Tuesday.
Bangladesh progressed to the final as table topper with 10 points from four group matches to set up the final against hosts India who earned nine points to finish runners up from as many matches. Nepal wrapped up with seven points with two wins, one draw and a defeat.
Sri Lanka and the Maldives finished on bottom two positions with one point each in the five-team contest. Only the sides securing top two positions at the end of the league round were guaranteed a place for the final.
Nepal, who played an early fixture of the day, had prolonged their faint hope of final for few hours. But India poured cold water on their ambition after a hard fought win over the Island nation. Nepal could have progressed to the final had India lost to comparatively weaker side Maldives.
Nepal also could also have entered the final despite India’s victory over the Maldives had they defeated Bangladesh by five-goal margin.
Nepal had made a bright start to their campaign beating Maldives 4-0 and Sri Lanka 3-0 before facing 8-0 drubbing by hosts India on Sunday.
Nepal came up with attacking intent from the onset and created few scoring chances but failed in the finishing department. Captain Ayush Ghalan was denied by Bangladesh goalie Md Asif in the early moments as the first half finished in goalless stalemate.
The match turned tense in the early second half and three players were sent off after a scuffle broke out, interrupting the play for five minutes. There was a scene of manhandling after Nepal’s midfielder Kritish Ratna Chhunju was fouled by a Bangladesh defender. The referee flashed red cards to Nepal’s Dipesh Gurung and Rohit Subba, who entered the pitch from the bench. Bangladesh’s Shadidul Islam was shown second yellow.
Md Piash Ahmmed Nova gave lead to Bangladesh in the 64th minute after he applied a one-touch finish from the area to send in Md Rafiqul Islam’s cut back pass. But Nepal restored parity four minutes later through Niranjan Malla who fired an unstoppable shot from 20 yards.
Nepal’s assistant coach Bal Gopal Sahukhala said that his side failed to overcome the hangover of the 8-0 defeat by India in their last match. “We came into the game knowing that we need to win with a good margin to progress into the next round. There was a lot of pressure on the young team. They still had the hangover of the India game and they failed to come out of that,” said Sahukhala. “If we were confident and played an aggressive game we could have got the results we wanted.”
He pointed out that his side need to improve physically as well as tactically to put up a strong show in the AFC U-20 Asian Cup Qualifiers to take place in Bahrain.
Bangladesh’s British coach Paul Smalley said that his side achieved their objective of making it to the finals. “After earning nine points from the first three games, we came up with different game plans today and executed it,” he said.