Anjan Bista (right) of Nepal in action during an AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers match against Tajikistan at the ANFA Complex in Satdobato, Lalitpur, on Tuesday.
KATHMANDU, Sept 6: Nepal suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Tajikistan in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers on Tuesday.
Dzhalilov Manuchehr and Vasiev Dilshod scoring two goals within a four-minute span in the first half helped Tajikistan registering a narrow victory over home team Nepal at the ANFA Complex ground.
Despite the goal from Bimal Gharti Magar in the 61st minute, Nepal couldn’t add another goal to meet its target of gathering at least one point from the match. Nepali head coach Gyotoku Koji had earlier said that his team wanted to register a draw at least, if not win.
With the second defeat in the qualifiers, Nepal is now on the bottom of Group F with just one point from three matches while Tajikistan has climbed to third position with four points.
Meanwhile The Philippines and Yemen played 2-2 draw in other match of the group on the same day. With a draw against Yemen, the Philippines has now improved its points tally to seven from three matches while Yemen has strong grip to the second position with five points from equal number of the matches to group topper.
Nepal had started the continental qualifying campaign with 4-1 loss to the Philippines in the first away-match and held goalless draw to Yemen to earn a point at the Halchowk Stadium.
After the match, Nepali head coach Koji pointed the lack of the proper combination between the midfield and attack as a major reason behind the team’s failure to score goals as per expectation.
“The midfield and attack couldn’t coordinate in the way we had planned. Especially in the first half, we failed to play as per the plans,” said Koji.
Nepal had started the match with Tribhuvan Army Club strikers Nawayug Shrestha and Bharat Khawash in the 4-4-2 system. The Japanese coach went for the four men midfield comprising of Sujal Shrestha, Anjan Bista, Bishal Rai and Bishal Rai. The shape of the midfield was changed in the second half with Bikram Lama replacing striker Bharat Khawas in the 58th minute.
The forward line was changed in the 39th minute with Koji bringing on goal scorer Magar in place of Shrestha. “We chose to play two strikers to hold the opponent’s defenders in effective way and exploit their defense line. But after the duo of Nawayug and Bharat failed to do so, we had to make an early change with Bimal replacing Nawayug which somehow changed the game,” added Koji.
Meanwhile Koji used three Army strikers in the match as debutant Prince George Karki came entered into the ground in the 63rd minute to replace midfielder Bishal Rai, but he couldn’t make any notable difference.
Nepal conceded the first goal due to poor defensive combination of goalkeeper and rest of the players in the penalty box. Goalie Kiran Kumar Limbu failing to grab the ball coming from the corner taken by Umarboev Parvizjon, saw other Tajik player Dzhalilov Manuchehr putting it into Nepal’s net.
Four minutes later Tajikistan extended its lead by 2-0 with Vasiev Dilshod’s goal. Following the failure of Nepali goalkeeper Limbu to grip the ball properly coming from the cross charged by Tajik winger Aliev Jahongir, unmarked Dilshod finished from a close range.
Meanwhile Koji hinted at possible changes in the squad as Nepal is to travel to Tajikistan in October for the away-match. “We will analyze the performances of the player who are in the current squad and make the essential changes for the next clash,” informed Koji. “There are many exciting players coming from the youth rank, we will look at them and other players as well.”
Tajikistan’s head coach Khakim Fuzaylov expressed his delight over meeting the target of acquiring full three points. Tajikistan was under pressure after facing two defeats in a row to the Philippines and Yemen respectively. “Although Nepal was tough team, we managed to pull the win which has kept our hope alive of qualifying for the final rounds,” said Khakiv. “We had lost last two matches, but hopefully these three points will keep us on the track.”
However he rued over his players missing the chances to add more goals. “We created multiple chances but couldn’t utilize them properly. We will have to improve on this part in the next match,” concluded Khakiv.