Saff championship: Nepal in do-or-die situationUnder pressure to produce a one-goal victory, Nepal are taking on hosts and title contenders India in a do-or-die clash of the Saff Championship at the Trivandrum International Stadium on Sunday.
Under pressure to produce a one-goal victory, Nepal are taking on hosts and title contenders India in a do-or-die clash of the Saff Championship at the Trivandrum International Stadium on Sunday.
Nepal are at the bottom of the three-team Group ‘A’ which India lead on goal difference after defeating Sri Lanka 2-0 on Friday. Sri Lanka had defeated Nepal 1-0 in the tournament opener and that defeat could be proved costly if they play a draw on Sunday. To qualify for the semi-finals, Nepal require victory by ending their 11-match goal drought.
Nepal coach Patrick Aussems acknowledged the pressure that his team is under. “We have not other alternatives than victory. Everyone knows what we need to do. We have to defeat India and score goals,” Aussems said on the eve of the match. Nepal, however, will head into the match with a painful fact of going through 11 matches without scoring.
It is second longest goal drought in Nepal’s international football history. Nepal, who are now into 1000 minutes without scoring, had not scored a single goal in 13 matches played from 1987 to 1989. When Nepal were undergoing training at the Laxmibai Sports College on Saturday, Aussems asked his players to get rid of the goal-drought fact from their mind. “Everyone is talking about the goal drought and this is affecting our players. I’ve told my boys to forget that we have not scored in the last two years,” said Aussems adding his team has recovered from the stunning defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka.
“The team is in a good psychological shape after the loss (against Sri Lanka). Everyone is positive,” said Aussems.
Skipper Anil Gurung said his side is not able to cope with the new formation. After Aussems’ arrival, national team is playing with a 4-3-3 formation—a strategy that has not worked so far. “We have never played in this formation before, so its hard for us to adjust so early,” said Gurung.
Afghanistan, Maldives in semis
TRIVANDRUM: Defending champions Afghanistan and Maldives sailed into the semi-finals of the Saff Championship from Group ‘B’ with one round of matches remaining.
Maldives defeated Bangladesh 3-1 in an early game before Afghans thrashed Bhutan 3-0. Both teams are tied on table with six points each with the Afghans leading by better goal difference. Ali Ashfaq, Hassan Naiz and Ahmed Nasheed scored for Maldives who meet the Afghans on Monday to decide pool winners.