Bista hat-trick gives Nepal 3-1 win over BangladeshThe friendly win means Nepal are now unbeaten against their South Asian rivals in their last five meetings.
Anjan Bista scored a hat-trick to inspire Nepal to a morale-boosting 3-1 victory over Bangladesh in the international friendly football match at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
Bista was recalled back to national duty after being left out along with 10 other senior members by former coach Abdullah Almutairi for the third and final round of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers in Kuwait. And the winger made his presence felt again, scoring all three goals and helping Nepal extend their unbeaten streak against Bangladesh.
The friendly win means Nepal are now unbeaten against their South Asian rivals in their last five meetings.
The victory is also a dream come true for the caretaker coach Pradip Humagain, who replaced the Kuwaiti last month following the national team debacle. Almutiari, whose questionable conducts were chiefly responsible for inviting the crisis in the camp just a month ahead of the Qualifiers, resigned earlier this month after 525 days at the helm.
Goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu retook the captain’s armband and was quite comfortable behind the defence. Nawayug Shrestha and Pujan Uperkoti—both of whom were axed for the Bangladesh friendly—had captained Nepal in the June Qualifiers in the absence of Limbu.
Suman Aryal and Shesehang Angdembe were the only players retained from the Qualifiers squad.
There were questions concerning the fitness of most of the players who returned to national duty after almost four months in exile. The apprehensions were not completely unfounded as Nepal were sluggish at the start. The build-up was slow and the play lacked energy.
Bangladesh almost took advantage in the 17th minute as their captain Jamal Bhuyan shook Nepal’s post with a crafted free kick.
But it was Bista who breathed life into the game when he put Nepal ahead a minute later. Bista won a free kick and then jumped to head in a perfect delivery from Bimal Gharti Magar to give an early blow to a Bangladeshi side who had arrived in Kathmandu full of confidence following a 1-0 win over Cambodia.
The goal energised Nepal in front of over 8000 spectators and the lead was soon doubled after Bista converted a rebound with a low drive in the 27th minute after Bangladesh custodian Anisur Rahman punched away a shot from Tej Tamang.
Bista has always proved a fearsome figure against the Bangladeshi opponents. It was his late equaliser that had earned Nepal a 1-1 draw against Bangladesh and a spot in the SAFF Championship final for the first time in their history in October last year.
And Bista proved again why he is the biggest threat with his first hat-trick for the national team, heading home a free kick from Bishal Rai in the 38th minute.
Bista took his international goal-scoring tally to 10 goals. He now joins the club of veteran forwards Anil Gurung and Bharat Khawas as the third highest goal scorer for Nepal. Hari Khadka and Nirajan Rayamajhi jointly top the goal-scoring chart with 13 goals each to their name. Ju Manu Rai has 11 goals.
“I am pleased to wear the national jersey again,” Bista, who also became the sixth player to score a hat-trick for the national team, said at the post-match conference.
Ganesh Thapa, Naresh Joshi, Nirajan Rayamajhi, Bharat Khawas and Nawayug Shrestha are the other players to score hat-tricks for Nepal.
“I played for the nation. I dedicate my goals to the team. I always believed in teamwork not individual goal tally. Today, they played well.”
Tamang almost furthered the lead near the hour mark when he pounced on the Bangladeshi defender’s repeated failure to clear away the ball but his low attempt went inches away from the far post.
Sazzad Hossen reduced the deficit in the 56th minute converting a cross from Rakib Hossain.
Bangladesh constantly looked for counter attacking opportunities after the break as well but were toothless in front of the goal as Nepal held on to the lead.
Humagain was quick to credit the players for the win. “The credit goes to the hard work of the players,” he said. “They deserved to win.”
Asked if the win could secure him the hot seat, Humagain said, “My duty as acting coach ends here today. I am here only for the friendly match against Bangladesh. But who knows what awaits me in the future. But this victory could prove a turning point in my career.”
He added, “I would like to thank all for their warm welcome.”
The match marked the debut for Ritik Khadka and Aashis Chaudhary in the national team.
Bangladesh coach Javier Cabrera was not satisfied with the outcome.
“It was a difficult match against the home team,” he said at the post-match conference. “We conceded unnecessary goals in the first half. My boys played well in the second half and were able to score one goal but it was not enough. Despite creating chances, we failed to capitalise on them.”