NEPAL BEAT BRUNEI AND REACH AFC SOLIDARITY CUP SEMIS
Kuching: Nepal booked their place in the semi-finals of the AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 on Tuesday evening as Group A winners with a 3-0 win over Brunei Darussalam at Sarawak Stadium.
A goal in each half from Nawayug Shrestha and Bharat Khawas before a late penalty from Bimal Gharti gave coach Koji Gyotoku’s side their first win of the tournament and, after a scoreless draw with Timor-Leste in their opening game, moved the Nepalese on to four points from two matches.
Despite the defeat Brunei will also progress to the semi-finals, where they will meet Macau, who are already assured of top spot in Group A after back-to-back wins in their opening two games in the tournament.
Nepal will meet either Laos or Mongolia, with the two teams set to battle it out on Wednesday to determine who advances to the last four of the competition.
Both Nepal and Brunei made one change from their previous game in the tournament, with Brunei calling up Hairol Azaman to replace Shafie Efenddy while Nepal switched Anjan Bista with striker Khawas in an attempt to find a solution to their inability find the back of the net.
Within eight minutes of the start, the Nepalese had fashioned out their first chance of the game when Nawayug Shrestha made a firm connection with his header, only for the ball to fly safely into the arms of goalkeeper Wardun Yussof.
As the half wore on, however, it was Brunei who exerted the greater amount of pressure. Azwan Saleh pulled his shot from just outside the area wide of Kiran Kumar Limbu’s goal while Shahrazen Said saw his header cleared off the line by Rabin Shrestha.
With seven minutes left on the first half clock, Said found himself with space behind the Nepal defence, only to see his shot from the tightest of angles saved by the goalkeeper.
As the game edged towards the halftime break, Nepal took the lead with their first goal of the tournament so far. Nawayug Shrestha saw his initial attempt on goal saved by Yussof, only for the goalkeeper to spill the ball and the striker to score at the second attempt.
With 18 minutes to go the Nepalese guaranteed themselves all three points when Nawayug Shrestha turned from scorer to provider, heading the ball across goal and into the path of Bharat Khawas, who netted with a perfectly executed strike from 15 yards out that flew into the bottom corner.
Gharti then scored from the spot 10 minutes from time, smashing the ball into the roof of the net after he was bundled over in the penalty area as Nepal sealed an emphatic win.