Once again, Nepal had to play second fiddle to Maldives, who stole the thunder at the Nehru Cup football championship in New Delhi. In the battle of the minnows, the Islanders chalked out a hard fought but impressive 2-1 victory over Nepal much to my chagrin. For the second time this year Nepal has gone down meekly to Maldives.
Many would agree that the game from a spectator’s standpoint left much to be desired over all. In my observation, the encounter was listless and devoid of thrill and excitement. To make matters worse, the ninety-four minutes of action was played at a leisurely pace. Nonetheless, Maldives well deserved the win. To be fair, on the day, they were sharper, better focused and better organized. In addition, they cashed in on the scoring opportunities and resorted to excellent and stout defensive work, especially in the second half. Although the Maldivians jumped to an early lead, they did not took Nepal lightly or gone to defend the lead. Instead they continued their sporadic attacks throughout the first half and did well to hold their ground till the final whistle.
As a die-hard Nepal supporter, I was overwhelmed by frustration and disillusionment to see Nepal kiss the dust. It’s no surprise to me that Nepal ended up on the losing side after the end of the contest. Against Maldives, I had the feeling that they stood a fairly good chance, despite low expectations. I was wrong, sadly. Team Nepal’s performance was average, ragged and unimpressive, and one might wonder what might have gone wrong. Foremost, the team was inadequately prepared for the tournament, a fact confirmed by Coach Krishna Thapa at the post match interview.
The Nepali players looked docile and sluggish in the first half, and they struggled to find rhythm. Contrary to expectations, there was not much creativity and maneuvering in mid-field, and the forwards under–performed and failed to offer an attacking threat. The defense did their job, but the custodian’s inept performance cost the team dearly. Nepal did put up a slightly better performance in the second time; however, they were never in contention for the victory. Though Jumanu got the consolation goal at the fag end of play, it was too late for Nepal to make a comeback.
When the team is unprepared for the challenges they face, how can we expect them to produce good results. That is simply not possible. The matter of fact is that the coach and players have no choice but do as instructed or face the wrath from the football body. Ironically, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, the coaching staff and players are scapegoated for the debacle. Most forget to hold the football body accountable which is solely responsible for preparing the national team in the best possible manner for international tournaments. The defeat puts Nepal in danger of taking the wooden spoon in the championship. By all indications, my biggest fear is that the remaining three matches against three formidable opponents might turn into a nightmare for the team.
I hope not. And I hope I am wrong.