Lackluster Nepal starts Bangabandhu title defense with defeat to Tajikistan

Published On: October 3, 2018 09:17 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Oct 3: Nepal national football team started its defense of the Bangabandhu Gold Cup with a sluggish 2-0 defeat at the hands of Tajikistan in a fairly physical game in Bangladesh on Tuesday. 

In the first Group A match played at the Sylhet District Stadium in Sylhet, a goal and an assist from Tajikistan captain Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev was the highlight of the game. 

Lackluster Nepal conceded through a spot kick after center back Ananta Tamang fouled Jahongir Ergashev inside the box in the 26th minute. Fatkhuloev comfortably put the ball into the right bottom corner, while it scored the second when Fatkhuloev crossed the ball into the danger area to Komron Tursunov, who headed in from the point blank range for the second in the 69th minute. 

Nepal was pressurizing Tajikistan’s backline with constant crosses, but the attackers were unable to head the ball in the target. Tajikistan was looking to attack on the breaks, but Nepal defended quite properly by closing down quickly in the middle. 

Tajikistan found it hard to get the ball into the channels and also struggled to retain the possession in the initial part of the game. 

Nepal goalkeeper Bikesh Kuthu looked really sluggish in the aerial department as he let a cross pass his grasps out for a corner. 

Tajikistan then took control of the game after 20 minutes as it passed the ball comfortably from the flanks and into the middle of the park. It also put together a lot of crosses, but Nepal cleared them all. 

Then Ananta made an unnecessary challenge inside the box leading to Tajikistan’s first goal. 

Tajikistan looked more comfortable with the ball after scoring the first as it passed around the ball properly. Nepal failed to close down the team and did not look like it wanted the ball back letting the winning team come to its defense. 

Tajikistan got a free-kick outside the box, but Sijovus Asrorov’s set piece went over the bar in the 38th minute. It started with passing plays near the half time mark, and Manucexr Axmedov’s cross to the area not headed in by the attackers in the 42nd minute. 

Amirbek Dzuraboev tried an ambitious shot from way off the Nepal danger area, but it went wide a minute after that. 

Nepal really struggled to get the ball off Tajikistan and whenever it had the ball, it gave away quite cheaply. Nepal then worked the balls through the flanks near the end of the two minutes of added time, but the shots of Suman Aryal, who came in for injured captain Biraj Maharjan, was headed away by the winning side’s defenders. 

Nepal upped its game in the second half by attacking from the start. It put a lot of crosses inside the box. A shot from Tej Tamang from just outside the box in the 50th minute was way over the bar into the stands. 

Tajikistan again utilized Nepal’s defensive problems after two of its center backs Tamang and Aditya Chaudhary went out injured. It got a real chance inside the box, but Nepal defended well to keep the ball out of the target.

Nepal got another chance, but Dinesh Rajbanshi’s cross to Bishal was not headed in properly and it went out in the 56th minute, while Bimal Gharti Magar’s shot few seconds later was saved, and the loose ball was parried away to safety by the Tajikistan keeper Rustam Rizoev. 

Tajikistan got a chance controlling the middle area of the pitch and Fatkhuloev cross was headed in by Tursunov to score its second goal of the match. 

Nepal then failed to take control of the possession and really struggled to get it back. It did not stay back only defending, but the attack from both the flanks and from the middle was controlled well by Tajikistan. 

Nepal then looked like scoring when Rai gave a good long ball to Sujal Shrestha in the box, but his strong shot was well saved by the keeper in the 72nd minute. 

Nepal failed to do well in attack and also did not create more chances. 

Nepal will now take on Palestine on Saturday, after Tajikistan takes on Palestine on Thursday. 

Earlier, on the day, the host Bangladesh beat Laos 1-0. 

The top two teams of both the groups will enter the semifinals of the tournament. The other team of Group B consists of the Philippines. 


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