Nepal and Bhutan goes through their battle of existence in the SAFF Championships 2018 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on September 6 Thursday.
Penalties and counterattacks ruled the day one on Tuesday as both the Himalayan countries conceded defeat in their openers. Nepal lost to Pakistan 2-1 while Bhutan went down 2-0 to hosts Bangladesh in identical fashions. Pakistan took the lead off a penalty and netted the winner off a quick counter attack in the dying minutes. Bangladesh also nailed Bhutan with an early penalty and struck the second off a speedy counter attack early after the re-start.
With Bangladesh and Pakistan scheduled to play the second match of the day, Nepal and Bhutan will finalize their destiny with the crunch match. A defeat will all but show the exit door to them.
Nepal coach Bal Gopal Maharjan will be hoping his attacking trio of Bharat Khawas, Bimal Bharti Magar and Nawjug Shreshta will deliver when it mostly required. “I admit they lacked the right rhythm against Pakistan , but I believe our time is not over, we have another two very hard matches to prove our worth” said Gopal.
Nepal have to work in its defence also as the defenders provided more space for their opponents in the crucial stages.
Bhutan saw their talisman Chencho Gyaltsen fail to make the impact and let the team down missing an open net against Bangladesh . Tightly marked by the defenders Chencho was looking for the air with the supply from the midfield also was relatively short. Bhutan has to rise on the occasion to save them from elimination.
Bangladesh coach Jamie Day was cautious to keep his foot in the ground. Bangladesh avoided practice session on Wednesday trying to kick the fatigue out. “ Pakistan is a strong team and they have a number of players who has the stints of European football, they are also god in counter attacks, it’s a important match for us and we will be cautious not to make any mistakes” said the English coach.
Pakistan’s Brazilian coach Antonio Nogueria was fuly confident of the challenge. “We’re back at the international scene with a bang, we tried to give our best and we did the best, we were the more attacking team and we will continue to do that.” Said Nogueria
Pakistan were more efficient on the counterattack with forward Saadullah and Muhammad Ali leading the front. Efficiently guided by experienced Zesh Rehman, Pakistani back four was also well-organized and Bangladesh attackers will have to sweat it out against them
A victory for each of the team all but ensures a last four spot in the seven nation football extravaganza.