Nepal edge Bangladesh to claim Three Nations CupThe hosts overcome their South Asian rivals 2-1 in the final match at the Dasharath Stadium to claim their fifth international title and second trophy at home.
Hosts Nepal defeated Bangladesh 2-1 in the final of the Three Nations Cup football tournament at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwor on Monday.
Tournament debutant midfielder Sanjog Rai and Bishal Rai scored in the first half to seal the victory as Nepal claimed the fifth international title and second trophy at home. Mahbubur Rahman pulled one back late in the second half for Bangladesh.
Champions Nepal received the winners' trophy and a cash prize of $5000 and runners-up Bangladesh got $3000..
In the group stage match played on Saturday, Nepal had played 0-0 draw against Bangladesh before settling for the same scoreline against the U-23 team of Kyrgyzstan on Thursday.
Nepal's first trophy at home dates back to 1984 when the team defeated the same opponents 4-2 in the first South Asian Federation Games now known as SAG at the Dasharath Stadium. Apart from that Nepal won gold in the 1993 SAF Games and 2016 Bangabandu Gold Cup both in Dhaka. In the same year Nepal won the AFC Solidarity Cup in Malaysia.
Nepal made two changes in the starting XI in comparison to the last two matches replacing forward Avishek Rijal with Sunil Bal and bringing central midfielder Bishal Rai in place of Ravi Shankar Paswan.
"As I have told earlier, we came with a different tactics and different formation and that paid off," said coach Bal Gopal Maharjan, who had also led the team to Bangabandhu trophy. Maharjan also made changes in the 4-4-2 formation he played in the last two matches by deploying a single forward Anjan Bista.
"It’s a proud moment to win the trophy at home turf. We were defeated by the Bangladesh team at the same venue in the 1999 South Asian Games football final while I was a player," recalled Maharjan, adding that he had defeated Bangladesh most while as a coach and also as a player.
Nepal looked a better side from the onset piling pressure on their opponent. They created nearly half a dozen goal scoring opportunities in the first half. Bangladesh, meanwhile, barely threatened the goal.
Skipper Kiran Limbu lauded the fighting spirit of his teammates. "There are lots of positive changes in the squad in comparison to the one we played against Bangladesh in November last year. There are many young players and have fighting spirit. But my goal with the team is to win the SAFF Championship."
Nepal created their first real chance in the 13th minute only for midfielder Tridev Gurung to apply a feeble touch from the area on Sunil Bal's cross allowing Bangladesh defender Riyadul Hasan to clear it.
Nepal came closer to scoring in the 17th minute when defender Ananta Tamang was allowed a free header in Sunil Bal's cross forcing Bangladesh goalie Anishu Rahman for a long stretch dive. A minute later Sanjog Rai broke the deadlock with a quick strike as Bangladeshi defenders failed to clear the ball from the crowded area following a corner.
The goal also broke Nepal's eight match long 748-minute goal drought who had last scored against Chinese Taipei in September 2019 in the World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifiers match.
During the half hour mark, forward Anjan Bista wasted a golden scoring opportunity when he chipped above the bar from the area in one-on-one with the advancing Bangladesh goalie Rahman.
The home team backed by roaring supporters doubled the advantage in the 42nd minute through Bishal Rai after he fired a powerful shot to beat Bangladeshi goalie Rahman in Ranjit Dhimal's pass.
Bangladesh created a couple of chances in the second half and pulled one back in the 83rd minute through substitute Mahububur Rahaman. The unmarked forward made a towering header to convert skipper Jamal Bhuiya’s corner. Though Bangladesh pushed on for a second goal, they ran out of time.
Nepal’s star defender Rohit Chand was declared the player-of-the-tournament and won $500 while goal scorer Sanjog Rai was named man-of-the-match and won $250.