'Nepal played for a draw'

Published On: June 15, 2017 02:30 AM NPT By: Prabin Bikram Katwal

KATHMANDU, June 14: About a week ago, Nepali national football team's head coach Gyotoku Koji had expressed his dissatisfaction over his players for failing to capitalize on the goal scoring opportunities in a 2-0 defeat to India in friendly match on June 6. 

Nepal had created limited chances against India at Andheri Sports Complex, Mumbai and all of them were poorly missed by the visiting team's attackers. The most notable miss came from Nawayug Shrestha when he failed to score in a one-versus-one situation against Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. 

“We always fail to capitalize on the chances and this has been a major setback for our team. Today also we couldn't score despite creating many chances,” Koji had said after the match. 

Once again Koji pointed out the same weakness after a goalless draw against Yemen in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers match at APF Stadium, Halchowk on Tuesday. Although he seemed satisfied about the result, he wasn't happy with his attacking players for not scoring goals despite enjoying majority of the possession. 

“Yemen was a different team than India so we had to change in attack, but despite that we still couldn't score. We have to improve this. We have to work hard in training and do better in coming matches,” said Koji after the match. 

In the home match of Nepal, the host enjoyed ball possession but failed to score any goal. 

 “Although the result must be taken as positive since we accumulated a point in such a tough competition, we should have won the match. We missed so many chances,” former national team captain Upendra Man Singh Singh told Republica. 

 “There was not fluidity in the movement of Nepali strikers. Yemen also had played two strikers upfront with one of them holding the ball and another running to the box,” said Singh, adding, “We also had two strikers but we couldn't witness such fluidity. Bharat Khawas worked very hard but his passes to Nawayug weren't that good. He lacked composure in the danger zone.” 

Singh also seemed unimpressed with Koji's decision not to bringing Bimal Gharti Magar a bit early. “Bimal can take set-pieces. He is dangerous in the box so bringing such player for only last five or ten minutes was not a good idea,” added Singh, who has experience of working as national team goalkeeping coach under Graham Roberts.

“I felt Nepal played for a draw because the combination between midfield and attack was missing. When Yemen attacked, they did it with whole team but our attack wasn't organized and compact like that of Yemen's. Bishal was staying too deep, maybe he was told to protect the defense,” further added Singh. 

“But I was impressed with our defense,” concluded Singh. 

Failed to create clear chances 

Meanwhile former national team striker Hari Khadka said Nepali team lacked creativity in the central midfield. “We dominated the match keeping ball possession most of the time but I don't think we created clear cut scoring chances. We lacked creative spark in the central midfield,” said Khadka, who is joint top scorer for Nepal alongside Nirajan Rayamajhi with 13 goals. 

He also said that the movement of strikers in the opponent's danger zone was not clever enough. “Bharat and Nawayug are good players and also biggest hope of the team but their movement wasn't clever enough. Strikers must arrive in the box in the right time and this attribute was lacking in them,” added Khadka. 

He also echoed similar view to his former team mate Singh over the late change of striker. “Every coach has his own tactics and way of playing the game but I think striker substitution came too late. Bimal should have been brought on a bit early to polish the attack,” further added Khadka, who has won 39 caps for Nepal. 

The former Nepal Police Club (NPC) striker also said that the Nepali side missed Rabin Shrestha who is out due to injury. “In the 4-4-2 playing system that Nepal used, fullback should make frequent overlap runs which was lacking. Nepal missed Rabin in that case,” concluded Khadka.

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