Resurgent Nepal hold patchy Indians

Football Nehru Cup: Hosts put on shoddy show in rain-affected match, face Cameroon in final league encounter

India were held to a 0-0 draw by a resurgent Nepal in the Nehru Cup football tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Tuesday.

The result left India with seven points and gave Nepal their first and both have a league match left to play.

The skies opened once again on Tuesday and the heavy downpour soon gave way to persistent drizzle.

The match, delayed by half an hour, however, progressed undeterred on a water-soaked field. India made two changes, bringing in Denzil Franco for Nirmal Chhetri and Anthony Pereira for Sanju Pradhan.

Nepal, who were pummeled 5-0 by Cameroon on Sunday, showed better skills on the slushy field and stitched some fine moves with short passes. Their mid-field was taut and regularly fed the strikers. The Indian defenders toiled hard to save a series of breaches.
Bhola Siwal nearly opened Nepal’s account in the early minutes with a menacing cross from right but Gourmangi Singh cleared it with a timely header.  

It was soon followed by three successive corners but India did well to keep the danger at bay.

The hosts tried to claw their way in the last few minutes of the first half. Pereira’s sent a precise cross to Francis Fernandes inside the box, whose volley was blocked by Sagar Thapa.

India began the second half by substituting Robin Singh for Clifford Miranda. They looked a galvanised lot in the second half but a goal continued to elude them.

They had a good chance when Periera, on being fed by Chhetri on the run, went for a shot at the goal but it was well-saved by goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong.

India made its second substitution 13 minutes from time. Jewel Raja replaced Lenny Rodrigues, who looked completely off-colour.

Immediate impact

Raja, however, made an immediate impact. He dribbled past Sagar Thapa before firing the balll goal-bound which was parried away by Chemjong for a corner.
Soon, there was another attack from India. Raja and Robin shot at the goal in succession but were once again denied by Chemjong.

Nepal were down to ten men in the 90th minute after Bikash Chhetri was shown a red card for dissent but they defended resolutely during the three minutes of injury time with a passionate Nepalese crowd firmly behind them.
India now play Cameroon on Friday.

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