By Sushil Thapa, Fairfax, VA
What I dreaded the most could not be avoided by Nepal in the ongoing AFC Challenge Cup in Kathmandu, Thursday.
The 0-2 loss at the hands of Palestine in the opener is a major setback for the team and fans alike. Obviously, a win could have been a perfect start, or at the least a draw could have worked in our favor.
The team comes under intense pressure following the defeat. The remaining two matches have assumed greater importance for Coach Roberts and his boys. To put ourselves in contention for one of the two semi-final spots we cannot afford another mediocre performance.
Our challenges are much more daunting now. It is a do-or-die situation for us to keep our semifinals hopes alive. By any stretch of imagination, it will not be easy against Turkmenistan and Maldives.
The matter of truth is that we have to perform exceedingly well to stand any chance.It is important that we beat Maldives and get back the momentum. Yes, we have to find a way to win, but it’s easier said than done.
Having played against Maldives countless times and most recently in the SAFF championship, we know what they are capable of, but we still can turn the tide in our favor provided we unleash our potential to the fullest, and we exploit home advantages successfully.
Going by Turkmenistan’s 3-1 victory over Maldives, they pose a much greater threat to us. They are a very physical team, coupled with plenty of speed and power. It requires a mighty effort to overcome them on our part.
Palestine is a relatively strong side as they showed with a victory against us. They were the better team on the day, and they controlled the proceedings in every department of the game for the most part. They played decent and consistent football throughout to frustrate us.
In contrast, we played poorly by our standards, by and large. Despite conceding an early goal we were unable to bounce back and saw our game go haywire. Clearly,we lacked cohesion,thrust, penetration and smart play.
Once again our forwards were a big letdown. They were guilty of poor finish and making hash of scoring opportunities that came by, and we had to pay a heavy price for their ineffectiveness, clumsiness and sloppiness, ultimately.
What: Nepal Vs Maldives
Where: Dasrath Stadium
Time: 5 PM
How to follow: www.GoalNepal.com, m.goalnepal.com, SMS GOAL to 5001, GoalNepal.com Online TV, GoalNepal FB/Twitter