Republica Nepal’s Bishal Rai (C) celebrates with Sujal Shrestha (L) and Rabin Shrestha (R) after scoring a goal against the Philippines during an AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers match in Manila on Tuesday.
KATHMANDU, March 29: Nepal faced a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Philippines in its opening match of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers on Tuesday in its away match. The Nepali squad was down to 10 players in the 13th minute and conceded two penalties in the match played at Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, the Philippines.
Skipper Phil Younghusband netted twice for the Azkals while Iain Ramsay and Javier Patino added other goals. Substitute midfielder Bishal Rai scored a consolation goal for Nepal.
After the big-margin loss in the first match of the continental qualifiers, Nepal’s head coach Gyotoku Koji said the result was unexpected. “It was an unexpected outcome for us. We weren’t set in the match and made one after another mistakes from early moments,” said head coach Koji.
However, the Japanese coach praised his players despite the defeat. “Despite facing difficulties from early moment of the match, our players tried well so I am satisfied with them,” he added.
The Philippines had an early chance to score the opener when the home team was given a penalty in the 13th minute after Bikram Lama of Nepal deliberately handed a goal-bound shot to deny Javier Patino in the penalty box. Midfielder Bikram was given a straight red card following the incident. However, Phil Younghusband failed to utilize the penalty as Nepal’s goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong dived to the right side to make a brilliant save.
In the 21st minute, Nepal gave away another penalty to the Philippines after Rabin Shrestha brought down Mike Ott in the danger zone and this time the Azkals’ captain Phil made no mistake to score the opener. Two minutes later, Phil netted his personal second goal and extended the lead by 2-0.
Iain Ramsay’s brilliant finishing from the penalty box in the 28th minute saw the Philippines widen its lead by 3 goals. Dennis Villanueva set for Ian in the crowded zone after Nepali players failed to clear the ball following Jeffrey Christiaens’ freekick.
Nepal kept its hope alive of snatching valuable away point as Bishal Rai scored from the inner edge of the box in the dying moments of the first half to cut the deficit. Bishal, who came as Anjan Bista’s replacement in the 29th minute, utilized a cross from fullback Rabin Shrestha to score Nepal’s only goal of the match.
The Philippines recovered its three-goal lead in the 72nd minute as Javier Patino netted for the Azkals to make the score 4-1. The 29-year-old striker playing his trade in Chinese Super League with Henan Jianye scored from the outer edge of the box.
The defeat against the Philippines turned out to be Nepal’s fourth defeat in a row against the opponent out of five encounters. The Philippines had defeated Nepal at the same stadium with a scoreline of 4-0 scoreline in 2011 while two other defeats came in friendly matches played in Qatar. The Azkals had registered 3-0 victories over Nepal twice in April and October of 2014.
Meanwhile, the Philippines’ head coach Thomas Dooley said his players played according to the plan. “My players executed the plan perfectly apart from the one costly defensive error in the stoppage time of the first half which helped Nepal pull back a goal,” said Dooley.
“The outcome of the match might be unexpected for Nepal. We snatched full three points at the home ground which is very important for us,” he summed up.
Nepal will now take on Yemen in the first home match of the qualifiers on June 13 at the Halchowk Stadium, Kathmandu.