-  Wednesday 15 July 2020

    Senior booters disappoint

    KATHMANDU, March 18 - Nepali national football team failed to impress after playing a 1-1 draw against African United in a friendly match that saw 36 players showcasing their skills on the field at the Dasrath Stadium today.
    Surendra Tamang opened the scoring with a long-range shot in 22nd minute giving lead the national team, currently under closed-camp training for the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup, but was soon cancelled by Nurudeen Salau's attractive header in 41st minute. The African team, made up of the African players playing in various clubs in Nepal, had won the Aaha Gold Cup in Pokhara and Buda Subbha Gold Cup in Dharan recently.

    After the match, All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) awarded five long-serving personalities a cash award of Rs. 100,000 and a Yamaha G5 motorbike each. Those who received the honor were Sunsari District Football Association's Dilip Rai, national players-turned-coaches Ashok KC and Raju Shakya, retired FIFA referee and former national player Shreeram Ranjitkar and long-serving national player Rakesh Shrestha.

    Nepali players dominated the early period of the match. Pradip Maharjan missed an opportunity kicking weakly straight to the keeper. Surendra powerful right-footer on right corner of the post from outside the penalty box gave no chance to custodian Uche.

    African United captain Obagbemiro Junior could have scored an equalizer two minutes later but his shot was weak and easy for Bikash Malla. In 39th minute, captain Ramesh Budhathoki tried an narrow angle close-range shot that was saved brilliantly by Uche.

    It was Junior, the highest scorer of the recently concluded National League, who scored the goal for his team. His free-kick was headed brilliantly by Salau.

    The second half was eventful as African United struggled with injuries while Nepali side substituted players one after another. Except goalkeeper Surendra Shrestha, all other 21 members of the team got the chance. Captaincy went to three hands, Ramesh, Surendra and then Hari Khadka. Basant Thapa, who returned from Japan to join national team, played for last 10 minutes.

    With the freshness, Nepali side dominated the last few minutes. Jumanu Rai got at least a couple of good chances but couldn't produce the goal-bound shots and the match ended in a draw.

    Coach Shyam Thapa took the match for all the players a chance to showcase their talents. “The only thing we lacked today was playmaker,” he said. Nepal has not bagged any praiseworty results in senior-level football. After the forgetable SAF Championship in Karachi Pakistan, the team will leave for Bangladesh to play the first-ever AFC Challenge Cup beginning from April 2. The team will play practice match in Kolkata, India.


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