The Nepal national men’s team managed to squeeze out a 2-1 win against India in the final of the South Asian Games football championship, at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, in Guwahati, on Monday.
It was a tale to two halves in the final, as India scored through a Halicharan Narzary penalty in the first half, but Nepal took the game into their own hands with goals from Prakash Budhatokhi and Nawayug Shreshtha in the second.
India gave yet another dominating performance over their Nepalese counterparts, but the Blue Tigers failed to make the grade, as they missed a flurry of chances to ultimately lose the game, and settle for silver in the match. The number of chances that the Indians missed was quite overwhenling, with forward Sumit Passi failing to make much of an impact up front.
Passi had actually managed to score with a looping header over Nepal goalkeeper Bikesh Kuthu, but the former was adjudged to be offside. After many missed chances, the home side was finally able to get their noses in front, as Nepal defender Ananta Tamang brought down India midfielder Udata Singh inside the box.
The resulting penalty was calmly slotted away by Narzary, as India started to envision a 182nd gold medal in the tournament. However, the Nepalese had different ideas.
Although it was the Indians who came all guns blazing in the second half of the match, the Nepalese sat back, absorbed all the pressure, and tried to hit back on the counter. One such counter resulted in Nepal getting a free kick, as Prakash Budhatokhi slotted it into the top corner of India custodian TP Rehenesh’s goal.
This gave Nepal a lot of momentum, as they clamped down on the India penalty area for a while, looking for the winner. They got exactly that in the 73rd minute, when Nawayug Shreshtha slotted in a cross from the left flank, with a kungfu kick-like volley.
The Indians surged forward in attack, looking for the equaliser in the last 20 minutes, but Nepal kept thwarting their opponents over and over again. Arguably the best chance of the match fell to Rowlin Borges, who just had to head in a cross from Narzary. However, the Sporting Clube de Goa midfielder headed it over the bar.
The visitors managed to defend for the rest of the match, as India tried and failed to get the equaliser. In the end it was Raju Kaji Shakya’s men, who came out victorious, and clinched a gold medal for Nepal.
Image Courtesy: AIFF Media
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