South Asian Games: Nepal edge past India to win gold in football

South Asian Games: Nepal edge past India to win gold in football

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Image Courtesy: © Twitter - AIFF

A 65th-minute free-kick from Prakash Budhathoki and Nawayug Shrestha’ strike in the 71st-minute helped Nepal defeat the Indian U-23 side 2-1 in the men’s football gold medal match. India capitulated in the second half after leading the game 1-0 thanks to a 31st-minute penalty from Holicharan Narzary.

Starting Line-ups:

India: TP Rehenesh (GK), Pritam Kotal, Narayan Das (C), Jhingan, Bikramjit, Rowlin Borges, Vinit Rai, Udanta, Jerry, Holicharan, Sumeet Passi

India entered the gold medal match of the 12th South Asian Games defeating Bangladesh 3-0 in the semi-final and continued their good performance in the final with Udanta Singh’s pace pestering the Nepal defence in the initial minutes. The side coached by Lee Johnson dominated the first period by throwing attack after attack at the rival team’s goal.

After missing a flurry of chances from open play, India finally went ahead in the 31st minute from a penalty after Aditya Chaudhary brought down Udanta Singh in the box.  Forward Holicharan Narzary stepped up and calmly slotted it past Bikesh Kuthu in the Nepal goal to open the scoring for the Indians.

With India in the ascendancy, Nepal opted for a safety first approach in the last 15 minutes of the half and put a spirited defending performance to keep the score at 1-0 going into the break.

(Also Read: An open letter to Nita Ambani from an Indian football fan)

However, it was a totally different story in the second half with Nepal controlling the match with a flurry of attacks on the Indian defence. The goal finally arrived for the Nepal team in the 66th minute with Prakash Budhathoki scoring from a free kick outfoxing TP Rehenesh in the Indian goal. With the goal in the bag, Nepal pushed forward in search of the second and found it soon in the 71st minute with Nawayug Shrestha acrobatically slotting the ball into the net from a cross.

Nepal’s lead woke up India from their slumber and made them fight for every ball in search of the equaliser. But Rowlin Borges missed a simple chance to level things up in the game in the 76th minute. The miss proved to be costly as Nepal held their nerve in the final 15 minutes to win the match 2-1. 

Earlier, Indian Women’s football team defeated Nepal 4-0 to win successive gold medals in the South Asian Games with goals from Kamala Devi (32nd, 56th ), Bala Devi (77th) and Ashalata Devi (80th). 

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