Wed, 19 June, 2024

Vietnam end Nepal’s Round 2 hopes

Staff Reporter Apr 08, 2023

Kathmandu : Nepal’s hopes to progress into the second round of the AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifier for Paris 2024 vanished into the thin air after Vietnam condemned the hosts to a second straight defeat at the Dasharath Stadium on Saturday.

The win gave Vitenam six points from two matches in Group C and a place with North Korea, Japan, Australia, China and South Korea—who received byes as the five highest ranked teams—in the second round.

Six other teams—winners from other groups—will also progress into the Round 2.

The Group C was originally a four-team competition, but was reduced to a two-team affair following the withdrawal of Palestine and Afghanistan.

Nepal had reached the second round of the AFC Qualifiers of Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2018 as one of the two best third-placed teams from Group C. Nepal had played 1-1 draws against India, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Nepal’s Round 2 bids were all but over when they fell to a 5-1 loss against the new Asian power house at the same venue on Wednesday, and needed to win by a big margin to pip the visiting side to the only spot from Group C.

But Pham Hai Yen—whose opener opened the floodgates in the first leg—hit the target twice early in the game to trample the hosts’ any remaining hopes of a comeback.

Coach Ananta Raj Thapa made only one change in the squad, starting Bimala Chaudhary in the midfield. But Nepal’s defensive woes continued again and let slip two easy goals inside the seven minutes.

Hai Yen outmuscled Hira Bhujel inside the six yard box and dinked past captain and goalkeeper Anjila Tumbapo Subba in the 6th minute after her first attempt to head in a corner was blocked by Nepali defenders.

Nepal—who are ranked 100—were playing against a 33rd ranked team that also qualified for their maiden World Cup in Australia and New Zealand 2023 and their gap was clearly visible in Kathmandu.

Subba has not been at her best and her poor goalkeeping aided by a mistake from defenders Amirta Jaisi and Samikshya Ghimire allowed Hai Yen to double Vietnam’s lead quickly.

The forward crept past catnapping Jaisi and Ghimire to meet a scrupulous pass from Tran Thi Thu Thao kicked over Subba.

The forward pounced on a mistake from central defenders Amrita Jaisi and Samikshya Ghimire and tapped over goalie Subba for her 37th international goal in the 7th minute.

Nepal gathered some courage after conceding but Vietnam were too comfortable to sit back. Sabitra Bhandari tested Vietnam goalkeeper Khong Thi Hang near the half hour mark but her best chance to cut the deficit came in the 39th minute.

Playmaker Saru Limbu released Bhandari who outran Vietnamese defenders to find the ball inside the box but her shot lacked the power needed to beat Thi Hang. Limbu had provided the assist for Nepal’s sole goal in the first leg.

Coach Thapa sent Anjana Rana Magar to replace Subba after the restart and his team also showed defensive improvements.

Nepal also continued their attacking intent in the second half but still lacked the cutting edge in front of the goal, with their best opportunity coming in the 66th minute.

Le Thi Diem My’s unsuccessful attempt to clear the ball found the foot of Dipa Shahi but goalie Thi Hang reacted quickly to push her close-ranged shot off the post.