Nepal hit the post as well as the crossbar and dominated possession but failed to make it count as a ruthless Palestine took home all three points.....
Palestine broke the hearts of thousands of Nepali fans in the Dashrath Rangasala stadium, as they romped to a 2-0 win against the hosts in a Group A encounter in Kathmandu.
Alaa Atya put the Al-Fursan ahead as early as the 4th minute when Palestine were the first to react to a loose ball inside the box before Fahed Attal sealed the points in the 65th minute, taking full advantage of a defensive lapse.
With FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Nepal’s Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai in attendance and a full house in the stadium, the background was set for a great football match.
However it seemed as if the pressure got the better of the Gorkhalis players, as they started the match on the backfoot and promptly fell behind in the fourth minute as after their keeper Kiran Chemzong made a brilliant save from a long-ranger, but it was the Palestine forwards who reacted quicker to the loose ball and Fahed Attal made no mistake in putting Jamal Mahmoud’s side ahead.
The first fifteen minutes were completely dominated by the Al-Fursan, as Nepal, playing what seemed like a five man defense, failed to settle quickly enough.
However gradually they came into their own and almost equalised in the 25th minute when Jumanu Rai hit the post after a brilliant pass by Anil Gurung. This kicked off a period of sustained pressure, where the hosts kept pushing the Palestine team towards their own goal. The away side’s goalkeeper Ramzi Saleh though, stood tall in goal and crucially came out to relieve the pressure on the defenders ahead of him on a couple of occasions.
Sagar Thapa then wasted another glorious chance, as his header lacked power and direction when presented with a good opportunity. Thapa then tried to set-up Gurung but the rival custodian was yet again quick off his line to thwart the Gorkhalis.
Eventually the referee blew the half-time whistle, with Palestine going in happier of the two sides.
The second half started as the first had ended, with Nepal having plenty of possession, but Jamal Mahmoud’s side reminded the hosts of their potency in front of goal when Ashraf Alfawaghra’s vicious shot went just wide of the post, with Chemzong in the home side’s goal completely beaten.
With Nepal not paying heed to the earlier warning, Palestine hit them with a classic sucker-punch as Fahed Attal took full advantage of a serious lack of concentration in the home side’s defense to further his team’s advantage.
Undeterred by the second goal, the hosts pushed ahead in search for an opening and Jumanu Rai almost halved the deficit, but Ramzi yet again pulled off a brilliant save when Rai looked odds on to score.
Luck seemed to have deserted Graham Roberts side, as soon afterwards, Santosh Sahukhala’s header hit the cross-bar and went out for a goal-kick.
That seemed to knock the stuffing out of Nepal, as the match eventually ended 2-0 in favour of Palestine, who like Turkmenistan have three points but are behind them in the table by virtue of goals scored.