Nehru Cup 2012: Underdogs Nepal hold India to draw

first_imgTheir pre-match billing as underdogs seemed to have spurred Nepal to give their all as they held India to a goalless draw in a Nehru Cup encounter on Tuesday.After rain forced a delay of 30 minutes, both sides went on the offensive but the stray attacks did not result in any goal.Nepal took control of the midfield early on and did not allow medios Mehtab Hossain and Lenny Rodrigues any space. Nepal earned four corners in the space of ten minutes and there was a close shave for the hosts in the 14th minute as Jagajit Shrestha’s corner created panic in the Indian defence.The ground conditions forced the Indians to resort to the long ball strategy and Sunil Chhetri was tightly marked by the Nepal defence.In the 19th minute, Chhetri tried an overhead-kick but the ball was cleared by Rohit Chand and that was his only attempt at goal in the first half.India got a free-kick just before halftime and Nepal’s Sandip Rai was shown a yellow card for an infringement. But Anthony Pereira failed to make use of the opportunity.Nepal’s display must have surprised India coach Wim Koevermans and he was forced to bring striker Robin Singh in place of winger Clifford Miranda, who failed to provide any spark to the Indian attack during his stay on the field.The second half started with India switching to the 4-4-2 formation with Koevermans hoping that the taller Robin would be able to unsettle the Nepalese defenders.advertisementAnthony Pereira, who had switched to the left wing, tested Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong for the first time in the second half but his shot was saved by the latter.Mehtab, however, found his bearings in the second half and in the 57th minute, found an overlapping Syed Rahim Nabi but his shot from 40 yards was easily collected by Chemjong.The Indians looked more composed in the second half but the through ball needed to pierce the rival defence was missing in the Indian players’ repertoire.Rodrigues was replaced by Jewel Raja in the 77th minute. Jewel’s introduction had an immediate effect as he made a fine run into the rival box as he dribbled past Sagar Thapa and shot a right-footer which was palmed out by Chemjong for a corner.India almost got the elusive goal from the corner but Chemjong somehow blocked Robin’s powerful left-footer.India upped the ante in the last ten minutes and Jewel was once again in the thick of the action. He found Chhetri near the box but the Indian skipper’s feeble shot was easily collected by Chemjong. In the 91st minute, Chhetri came close to breaking the deadlock but his shot went over the bar.In the dying moments of the game, India got a free-kick and Nepal’s Bikash Singh Chhetri was shown the red card for protesting.In the post match press conference, Koevermans said that Nepal played well in the first half but the slushy turf did not allow the players to play to their potential. “The conditions were difficult and it’s unfortunate that the matches have to be played on these conditions. But we can’t do anything about it,” he said.last_img read more