Nepal seemed to have found their rhythm back, especially in the second half, after an average display in their narrow defeat against Pakistan in the first match, and that came through three changes made by head coach Bal Gopal Maharjan from the previous game
After a shocking defeat in the tournament opener, Nepal came back strongly as they demolished 10-man Bhutan, clinching a convincing 4-0 win in their second Group A match at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Thursday afternoon.
With two defeats in a row including the one against host Bangladesh on the inaugural day, Bhutan’s fate in the tournament is now hanging by a thin thread as they must beat Pakistan in their last match Saturday.
Nepal seemed to have found their rhythm back, especially in the second half, after an average display in their narrow defeat against Pakistan in the first match, and that came through three changes made by head coach Bal Gopal Maharjan from the previous game.
Midfielder Sunil Bal, who featured from the bench against Pakistan, was a constant threat in the attacking front as he scored one and assisted one. It was his corner that led to the opening goal as defender Ananta Tamang converted the set-piece with a flying header.
Bhutan made an early substitution as soon as the second half began when goalkeeper Ngawang Jamphel replaced Tshering Samdup between the posts. The new keeper had to concede three more after his side were reduced to 10 men following Sujal Shrestha’s sending off.
Sujal received his second yellow card after bringing down substitute midfielder Nirajan Khadka that also compelled the referee to award the victor a penalty. Bimal Gharti Magar’s shot from the spot was saved by Jamphel but Sunil scored from the rebound in the 69th minute, beating the keeper between the legs.
Bharat Khawas made immediate impact after coming off the bench, replacing Anjan Bista, as the forward extended the lead 10 minutes later by slotting home past the custodian from the top of the box.
Nirajan Khadka sealed the last nail in the coffin of hapless Bhutan with a glancing header, following a precise corner by Sunil two minutes before the end of stipulated time.
Gopal said after the game, “After the defeat in the first game, it was a must-win game for us in our bid for the knockout stages. I made some changes in strategy, concentrated on attacking third, and it paid off. The tactical changes after the break also left impact on the win.”
Nepal will take on host Bangladesh Saturday.
Nepal 4 (Ananta 21, Sunil 71, Bharat 79, Khadka 88) 0 Bhutan