03 December 2011

SAFF Championship 2011

Semifinal: Nepal vs. Afghanistan (December 9)

Nepal had the possession, but Afghanistan had the goal and earned a 1-0 victory in extra time. Nepal had plenty of chances to score, but the strikers were blunt as was the case this entire tournament.

I'll have lots of articles on the SAFF Championship in the coming days. Stay tuned!

 Nepal vs. Pakistan (December 6)

With their quick, short passing game, for the third consecutive match Nepal were the better side. They took the lead on an inspired side volley by Bharat Khawas in a goalmouth scrap after a Nepal cornerkick. Pakistan equalized at the start of the 2nd half on a penalty kick, but hardly troubled Nepal thereafter. Nepal's attack itself was fairly blunt in the second period save a Sandeep Rai freekick that bounced-off the post.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw and its on to the semifinals for Nepal.

For all its enterprise Nepal seriously has lacked any sort of cutting edge in their attack throughout the SAFF Championship. Nepal's forwards neither have the virtuoso nor the strength and power to get past the oppositions' last line. It's no surprise therefore that all three of Nepal's goals in the tournament have come from set pieces.

Off the pitch, Nepal's hardcore football fanbase kicked-butt as usual. One again thousands were at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium creating a ruckus.

Nepal vs. Bangladesh (December 4)

Nepal continues to impress at the SAFF Championship. Though it took 90 minutes to find the winning goal versus Bangladesh, on an inspirational free kick by Captain Sagar Thapa, for the second game in a row they dominated the opposition.

Nepal has been the most impressive team at the SAFF Championship thus far. With India in disarray, could this be the year?

Nepal vs. Maldives (December 2)

The Boys came to play! Nepal was easily the better side in its first match against the Maldives. From the opening whistle the Maldives were on the back foot, unable to match Nepal’s fitness and intensity. With crisp one touch passing, Nepal attacked in waves. Unfortunately, poor crossing and a lack of shooting power in the final third saw the match end in just a 1-1 draw.

Most impressive was Nepal’s midfield which overwhelmed Maldives and hardly let them within 35 yards of Nepal’s goal. Constant pressure saw Maldives quite flustered and rarely were they able to string together more than 3 or 4 passes. Bharat Khawas in midfield and Robin Shrestha on the wing were a constant threat and could stake claim to the Man of the Match award.

Historically, in pressure situations Nepali players seem to get very tight and nervous and tend to wilt during crunch time. Not today. The players looked very confident from the start and despite going a goal down on a blinder of a shot at the end of the 1st half, stayed composed and were able to level the game in the early part of the 2nd period and kept attacking until the very end. Looks like the ANFA's motivation classes are paying off.