Nepal started AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualification campaign on a losing note as they lost 4-1 to Philippines in Manila today.
Nepal was reduced to 10 man after Bikram Lama was red carded in early 12th minutes. It was a turning point for Nepal. Lama unnecessarily handed the ball that earned Azkals a spot kick. Goalie Kiran Chemjong brilliantly blocked the shot giving huge boost to Gorkhalis. But the sad part, Nepal was already reduced to 10 man.
Coach Koji had different plan in his mind. He dropped regular Biraj Maharjan from first XI and placed Kamal in his position. Bharat Khawas wore arm band.
The scrappy first-half goals- one from Iain Ramsey and two from Philip Younghusband gave Azkals a rocking command.
Azkals exposed their guest’s defensive frailties throughout the game. Another spot kick was awarded to Azkals in 20th minute when Nepal defender Rabin Shrestha pulled down Phil player inside the box. Skipper Phil made no mistake to open the firing in 21st minute.
The evening clash went bad to worse for the guests as they conceded quick goals.
It was another scrappy goal in the 23rd minute; with poor defending from Nepal that allowed Younghusband a very clever goal.
Iain Ramsey made it 3-0 in 27th minute.
In a quick substitution from Nepal, Koji brought in Bishal Rai in the place of Anjan Bista. Thanks to Rabin Shrestha for a pin point pass, Rai made no mistake to cut the deficit with his firm shot.
It was carbon copy in the second half. Philippines dominated the game but they failed to convert their chances.
However, Javier Patino put ice on the cake in the wee hours in 73rd minute.
Coach Koji brought in Heman Gurung, who brought sparks in the match. His 89th minute free kick was hardly saved by Azkals goalie.
Nepal will now play couple of home matches in Kathmandu in June and September.
Nepal are grouped with Philippines, Tajikistan and Yemen.
Philippines First XI: Neil Etheridge(GK); Carlos De Murga, Sato Daisuke, Amani Manuel, Dennis; Iain Ramsay, James Younghusband; Mike OTT, Philip Younghusband(C), Jeffrey Christiaens, Javier Patino.
Nepal First XI: Kiran Chemjong(GK); Rabin Shrestha, Kamal Shrestha, Ananta Tamang, Aditya Chaudhary; Bikram Lama, Rohit Chand, Sujal Shrestha, Anjan Bista; Bimal Gharti Magar, Bharat Khawas(C).
OFFICIAL Timings: Philippines vs Nepal
Bikram Lama RED CARD - 12th minute
Rabin Shrestha YELLOW CARD - 20th minute
Bishal Rai IN, Anjan Bista OUT 28’
Bimal G Magar OUT Heman Gurung IN 69’
Biraj Maharjan IN Rabin Shrestha OUT 90+2'