India 0-0 Nepal: The Blue Tigers’ qualification hopes hang in the balance
In a game not for purists, the two teams shared the points on a Tuesday evening which didn’t help India’s cause…
By Rahul Bali
Wim Koevermans’ side were held to a goalless draw by a resilient Nepal side at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi.
India can still qualify for the finals if Maldives fail to beat Cameroon in Wednesday’s fixture of the Nehru Cup given that they enjoy a better head-to-head record against the Red Snappers. However if Maldives were to beat Cameroon, India would still have a chance to qualify when they face the African nation in their final fixture and a draw would suffice.
India made two changes to their starting lineup from the previous match as Denzil Franco came in for the injured Nirmal Chettri while Anthony Pereira replaced Sanju Pradhan on the right wing. Nepal, in their 3-5-2, opted for Kiran Chemjong between the sticks, Raju Tamang to dictate the play from the middle while Bholanath Silwal playing on the right wing. Ritesh Thapa, Rupesh and Nirajan Khadka were chopped from the lineup.
Play was delayed for 30 minutes due to soggy field conditions which affected the two teams as they couldn’t control the ball well.
It was Nepal who adapted well to the conditions as they created openings in the first half, while the Indians didn’t have any.
Koevermans’ side survived a scare in the 14th minute as Jagajit Shrestha’s flag-kick saw Denzil Franco’s head it closer to his own goal.
Mehtab Hussain put in a good shift in breaking the Nepal attacks while Lenny Rodrigues struggled to cope with the wet field. Clifford Miranda, who has had a good tournament so far, was absent from the proceedings as he never really had a touch on the ball.
Around the half hour mark, Rohit Chand’s free-kick from the middle of the park saw Bikash Chhetri shoot it towards the goal from inside the box but Subrata Paul brilliantly collects the ball.
After the break, Koevermans introduced Robin Singh for Clifford Miranda thus drifting Francis Fernandes on the right while Anthony Pereira moved to the left wing.
Just three minutes into the second half and India had a lucky escape when the conditions came to their rescue. Jumanu Rai brilliantly twisted and turned to beat the Indian central defenders but lost his footing in the end. He did try to toe-poke it in but an alert Gaikwad made a last ditch tackle for Subrata Paul to collect.
India’s first chance came in the 52nd minute when Mehtab found Chhetri who released Anthony on the right whose shot was saved by goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong.
Mehtab kept foiling Nepal’s attempts to break into the Indian half as the Blue Tigers looked far better after their hapless display in the opening 45 minutes.
The introduction of Jewel Raja for the final quarter of an hour livened things up as he, after being found by Francis, embarked on a run down the centre and dribbled past Sagar Thapa but saw his shot being palmed out by Kiran for a corner.
Nepal cleared the lines from the ensuing flag-kick but Gaikwad played the ball in which saw a shot being parried away by the Nepal custodian. The ball fell for Robin whose left footed shot was blocked by Kiran in the 82nd minute.
Bikash Chhetri was sent-off by the referee for protesting a free-kick awarded to the Indians after Robin was kicked from behind by Chand.
India, though undefeated, would rue their missed opportunity of sealing a berth in the final. However all is not lost as a win for Cameroon tomorrow will turn the tides in India’s favour.
How do you stay up with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.
- Own Goal
- Penalty Missed
- Yellow Card
- Penalty Save
- Penalty Shootout Goal
- Penalty Shootout Miss
- Yellow Card / Red Card
- Red Card
- Substitution IN
- Substitution OUT
- Goal.com Rating
- Goal.com Man of the Match
- Goal.com Flop of the Match
- Top & Flop Global Ranking
- Fans' Man of the Match
- Fans' Flop of the Match