Nepal clinch Three Nations CupThe Gorkhalis come from behind to edge Laos 2-1 in the final at the Dasharath Stadium.
Nepal clinched Prime Minister’s Three Nations Cup football tournament after Ayush Ghalan and Manish Dangi hit the targets for hosts as they recovered from a one goal deficit to defeat Laos 2-1 in the final in Kathmandu on Friday.
Ghalan cancelled Phoutthavong Sangvilay’s lead and Manish Dangi put the game to bed late in the second half in a hard-fought victory at the Dasharath Stadium that also lifted pressure off new coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese who had come into the spotlight after Nepal failed to beat Bhutan for the first time when they fought back for a 1-1 draw on Tuesday.
It was the second Three Nations Cup title for Nepal who had achieved a similar feat in March 2021 defeating Bangladesh in the final that also comprised Kyrgyzstan under 23 age group team. Similar to 2021, which also had some unofficial games, the final was an unofficial international match as it did not fall under the FIFA window.
The win also fetched the home team a purse of US $5,000. Runners-up Laos walked away with US $3,000. Forward Ghalan was declared the most valuable player and got a purse of US $500 while Dangi was named player-of-the-match. He won US $250.
“We improved game by game in the tournament. In the third game, we dominated the show, especially in the second half. We created many chances. It’s been only one month since I have worked in Nepal therefore I first need to understand the players well,” said the Italian who was appointed this month. “I am proud of my boys. We can do better in the coming days, we missed many goals today”
Nepal made three changes from the last match starting rookie Dipak Raj Singh Thakuri and Manish Dangi upfront instead of Anjan Bista and Nawayug Shrestha. Mani Kumar Lama replaced Pujan Uperkoti, who faced suspension in the final for yellow cards in the first two matches.
Nepal were favourites against Laos having beaten them 2-0 in the opening match but it was the visiting side who beat the odds to take the lead, thanks to a defensive lapse from the hosts.
Laos Sangvilay slipped behind a napping Nepali defence to meet a pass from Bounphachan Bounkong and tapped past Nepal captain and goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu in the 17th minute.
Nepal responded with a spirited display after conceding and it almost paid off immediately when Sanish Shrestha flicked a darting free kick from Nabin Lama but Laos goalie Xaysavath made a diving save.
But Aysuh Ghalan equalised moments later when he sent a low drive past Xaysavath after he was set up by Arik Bista, who had engineered the move taking advantage of a weak play by Chanthavixay Khounthoumphone in the middle of the field.
Ghalan then missed a golden chance to take the lead in the 26th minute. Manish Dangi and Nabin Lama combined to set up Ghalan in front of the goal but his tame shot was saved by Xaysavath.
Nepal were a far better side after the restart and kept the Laos box under constant pressure but still lacked the cutting edge to finish off the free-flowing attack.
Their chance arrived in the 55th minute. Dangi made a blistering run down the right and set up Dipak Raj Singh Thakuri inside the six yard box with a cross that only needed a tapping but Dipak Raj Singh Thakuri missed it.
Ayush Ghalan then wasted another opportunity at the hour mark as he headed a cross from Nabin Lama just over the bar.
Annese sent Anjan Bista, who was stretchered off in Nepal’s 1-1 draw against Bhutan, in the place of Thakuri in a desperate search for goals and Bista impressed immediately forcing Xaysavath a save. Dangi sent in the rebound but the goal was ruled offside.
Minutes earlier Nishan Khadka’s left-footed freekick had rattled the crossbar, which could have been an eye-popping goal had it gone in.
Dangi had troubled the Laos defenders throughout the play and the player of the match had the final say in the 88th minute when he drove a low shot from the left in almost a carbon copy of the first goal for a beautiful finish.
Thanking ANFA for organising the tournament, Laos German coach Michael Weiss said that his side lost after giving goals to opponents.
“Though Nepal were not technically sound, they played with strong energy, aggressiveness and good tempo. I congratulate them for winning the tournament.”