News Nepali Fans Expect Coach AA To Turn Things Around When They Take On Bangladesh - COMMENT
Sandesh Sigdel

Nepal fall down to India 0-1 in a SAFF championship match with an 82nd-minute goal from Indian talisman Sunil Chhetri.

Almutairi fielded a rather defensive lineup with what looked to be a 5-4-1 formation from the start.

Nepal aimed to soak up the pressure with a defensive style and strike India with counters, either by playing direct or through balls won in the middle, as expected after the lineups were released.

In the first half, Manish Dangi was the one whom everyone on the Nepali team looks for whenever they were on the ball. Nepal had attempted to stretch the Indian backline but had been unsuccessful. To say Nepal had no possession of the ball in the first half is an understatement. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu didn't have anything to deal with. Through their build-ups, India was attempting to locate their talisman Sunil Chhetri, but Nepal largely neutralized him to except for one moment when Sunil was unable to tap the ball in from the right. He'd have buried that chance on any other day.

They'd primarily relied on straight play to locate Sunil and Brandon Fernandes. Almutairi changed personnel in the second half with the introduction of Anjan Bista who was brought on so that he could hold the ball and bring others into play but didn't change that approach.

Apart from a couple of lively moments on the ball, Nepal couldn't do much to trouble Gurpreet. India on the other hand still continued their reign on the ball and created a few clear-cut chances.

Kiran Limbu rescued Nepal a couple of times including a point-blank header in the 57th minute and a Subhasish Bose's header that was parried away by the Nepal no. 1.

Heartbreak soon followed for Nepal when Sunil Chhetri netted a cross from the left in the 82nd minute which was enough to get all three points and register their first win for India.

Almutairi's approach defense-wise looked pretty good until the goal but Nepal had to offer almost nothing going forward. Although India also had a dull display from their side, they created a few clear-cut chances and scored one which is what matters ultimately.

Now Nepal go into the game against Bangladesh knowing that a point would be enough to qualify for the final as they play earlier than the India-Maldives clash on Wednesday.

Still, work to be done offensively, Nepali fans would expect Almutairi to turn things around against Bangladesh and make the final for the first time to be played on Saturday.

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