KATHMANDU, March 8: Host Nepal received a blow during the opening match of AFC Challenge Cup finals as it was defeated 2-0 by Palestine on Thursday at the Dasharath Stadium.
F Attal combined well with A Atya to score both goals for visitors including an early fourth minute opener.
Nepal conceded the first goal following a blunder of glovesman Kiran Chemjong who dropped M Said´s powerful shot. Atya quickly controlled the ball dropped by goalie near the post and then supplied short pass to Attal who easily tapped in to send the ball at the back of net.
The visitors doubled the tally in the 66th minute due to lack of understanding among Nepali defenders. Atya stole the ball from Nepali defenders and then supplied it to unmarked Attal who made a cool finishing from box to beat goalie Chemjong.
Nepali team playing under presence of huge home crowd seemed helpless during most of the match. Nepal created about four chances but all in vain.
Nepal vs Palestine.
Nepal could have equalized the match in the 20th minute had Jumanu Rai´s second bar shot from area in Anil Gurung´s pass not rebounded off the pole. In the 37th minute Anil Gurung´s bouncing header in Biraj Maharjan´s cross was easily taken by Palestine skipper cum goalie R Saieh and Gurung was again denied by the goalie in the injury time of the first half.
PM addressing inaugural ceremony.
In the 78th minute Rai failed to beat goalie Saieh in the box in Jeetendra Karki´s pass with only the goalie as his obstacle. Forward Santosh Sahukhala who came as replacement of Bharat Khawas in the first minute of second half headed inches above bar in the 85th minute. Nepal´s Nirajan Khadka, Santosh Sahukhala and Biraj Maharjan were shown yellow cards.
Audience at Dasharath stadium.
Though Palestine could not create many scoring opportunities, it controlled the field of play almost all the time other than last 20 minutes of the first half. Palestine´s two attempts, one each in the either half, went off the target.
A foreigner supporting Nepal.
Palestine coach Jamal Mahmoud of Jordan expressed satisfaction towards his team´s performance. "We played good football. Nepal is a strong team." Mahmoud said during the post match conference.
Nepal will play against the Maldives in its next group stage match on Saturday while Palestine will lock horns with Turkmenistan at the Halchowk ground in four team group.
Nepal vs Palestine.
Santosh Sahukhala of Nepal.
Turkmenistan beats Maldives in opener
Turkmenistan started the AFC Challenge Cup with a 3-1 win over 10-man Maldives on Thursday at APF Football Ground, Halchowk.
Turkmenistan came from behind to take the game in its side and win crucial three points from the first match.
Adhuham gave Maldives the lead with a powerful strike from the six-yard box in the 20th minute of the game in a Riley Rilwan cross. Ruslan Mingazov equalized the score in the 33rd minute. Mingazov tapped the ball from six yards utilizing the cross of Amanov Arslanmyrat.
Substitute Gahryman Chonkayev then put Turkmenistan ahead in the 79th minute through a free kick from 25 yards. Maldives was restricted to10 men as Tom Thariq fouled goal scorer Mingazov in the 82nd minute. Thariq will miss his next match against the host Nepal.
Maldives goalkeeper tries to save goal.
Playmaker Arslanmyrat sealed the victory for Turkmenistan with a goal in 85th minute. Arslanmyrat had dogged two Maldivian defenders before launching his powerful shot from the six-yard box.
After the win, Turkmenistan coach Yazguly Hojageldiyev said that the players did not played as expected. “We had come from a long distance so the players failed to give their best,” said the coach.Maldives coach Istvan Urbanyi said the mistakes of defenders made them lose the match.
Nepal´s coach abuses Journo
Nepali national team´s coach Graham Paul Roberts abused sports journalist during the official post match conference of the AFC Challenge Cup following disastrous start of his team in the Challenge Cup.
When asked by a reporter why his team failed to put up spirited show, Roberts used abusive language. "You write what you want to write in your newspaper. You don´t have respect for your players." This is not the first time that Roberts abused journalist. Earlier, he had used abusive language against reporters during the qualifiers of the Challenge Cup at Dasharath Stadium.
Trying to defend his team´s performance in the match against Palestine which is ranked 160, seven spots below Nepal in FIFA ranking, Roberts said, "Nepal don´t have professional players and Palestine players are professional. They play professional football in Europe."
"Though we battled until last moment we were punished," Roberts said blaming his goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong´s mistake for conceding the first goal.
DPR Korea Vs Philippines @ 15:00 NST Venue: Halchowk ground
India Vs Tajikistan @ 17:00 NST Venue: Dasharath Stadium