SAFF Championship highlights: India vs Nepal; Chhetri goal gives first win

India vs Nepal: Welcome to Sportstar's blog of the SAFF Championship match being played at the at the Maldives National Football Stadium.

India will once again look to Sunil Chhetri to provide the goals.   -  AIFF MEDIA

Hello and welcome to Sportstar's blog of the India vs Nepal SAFF Championship 2021 match being played at the at the Maldives National Football Stadium.

 

MATCH REPORT | SAFF Ch'ship: Chhetri equals Pele record in India's win over Nepal

India moves into third in the points table with 5 points. India will now have to beat Maldives in the final game to ensure it qualifes for the final.

Chhetri: "We have been very poor in front of goal. At least we got a three points today. We have improved a lot today with the pressing up front and got good chances. We are alive in the tournament so that's good."

FULL-TIME WHISTLE! India registers its first win and who else but Chhetri to get that match-winner!

A melee ensues near the centre-circle with Gurpreet unhappy about something. Bose, Bista are booked.

90'+2' Subhasish with a crucial block to deny Ananta Tamang a chance to score.

Three minutes of added time.

90' Oh my word. Suman Aryal nearly with the goal of the tournament! he danced his way from the left, twisting and turning past three Indian players before his toe-poke/pass went wide of the far post.

88' Nepal throwing the proverbial kitchen sink with balls and bodies into the box. India with bodies to block efforts and booting it out of the area.

87' India sub: Sahal on, Lalengmawia ON

86' A huge chance for Anjana Bista, who was found inside the box, but his curling effort was just wide.

Stimac with a celebratory dance for the Chhetri goal.

84' Chhetri goes for an audacious left-footed volley from outside the box which goes wide.

83' GOAAL! Chhetri puts India ahead! Brandon loops a ball into the box where Farukh turns the ball into the six-yard area for Chhetri to poke it into the net!

80' Thapa wins a corner after his cross is deflected behind from inside the box. Brandon with an inswinging corner and an unmarked Chhetri heads the ball along the ground and loops over the bar.

78' Gautam with a good tackle on the left to dispossess Liston, who looked to dribble his way into the box.

76' Liston cuts in from the left and is fouled in the process. A freekick from the left where Brandon swings it in to the unmarked Chhetri, who misdirects his header before the follwing header is straight at Kiran!

72' Kotal with a crucial last-ditch tackle to take the ball away from the feet off Bista, who was setting himself up for a shot at goal.

72' Lalengmawia pulls down Bista as he looked to wriggle away to set off a Nepal counter-attack.

70' Double change for India: Liston, Farukh ON; Mandar, Yasir OFF

67' Uparkoti requires treatment after he came off worse from a sliding challenge.

Gurpreet is booked for showing dissent.

65' Anjan wins the ball off Lalengmawia near the centre-circle and begins a Nepal counter attack but his ball to the left is not kept in play by Sujan.

64' Again good build-up play from India. Yasir finds Udanta's run on the right and he plays in a ow ball into the edge of the Nepal box, where Brandon's shot is blocked by a diving body.

63' Yasir goes for a shot from distance but his effort isn't on target.

62' Foul from Anjan Bista as he collides against Bose.

It's been one-way traffic since the start of the half with India dominating possession in the opposition half.

60' Nepal change: Suraj Thakuri ON, Sujal OFF

58' Double change for India: Thapa, Udanta ON; Suresh, Manvir OFF

57' WHAT A SAVE! Yasir loops a ball into the six-yard area where Manvir heads it towards goal and needed a sprwaling save from Kiran!

56' Brandon looks to curl it into the top right corner but he can't quite bring it under the bar...

55' Chhetri fouled outside the box. A free-kick from a promising position for India.

53' Yasir cuts in from the right and dribbles his way to the edge of the box but his shot is tame and rolls into the hands of the 'keeper.

52' Suresh overhits a throughball while looking to find the run of yasir on the right.

51' Pingball from the corner by Brandon before he ball rolls into the hands of Kiran.

50' Yasir fends off pressure from the left-back to win a corner on the right side.

49' Yikes.. Kotal with a volley from distance and the ball sails way wide.

47' Right-back Gautam cuts in from the right and leaves two Indian players for dead but his chipped ball into the box is intercepted.

46' Nepal gets the second period underway.

Nepal Sub: Manish OFF, Anjan Bista ON

SECOND HALF

Meanwhile, the women have recored a 5-0 win over Bahrain. Second win in three games for Thomas Dennerby's side.

After a sedate start for close to 25 minutes, India grew into the game well. The passing was sharper and began to pin Nepal into its own half and could have comfortably taken the lead. India will need to find the scoring boots somehow to mke its case for reaching the final of the championship. 

HALF-TIME

45'+1' Nepal come forward and the ball is worked towards the right before swung in low for Sujal, who couldn't get his touch in control to have a shot at goal. That's the final piece of action.

One minute of added time

45' India finding spaces in between the defensive lines and this time Yasir finds Kotal on the indie but he can't find Manvir's run on the overlap.

43' A long ball into the box where Chhetri, who peeled away from his marker, heads into the six-yard area, where Manvir just needed a touch to divert it towards goal. Lucikly for Nepal, Kiran collects it.

41' Nepal constantly looking for the outball to find Manish's runs but Indian centrebacks have cleared the danger thus far.

38' India is dominating proceedings here in the last few minutes.

36' Yasir looks to cut in from the right through the middle but has one too many players to overcome and is dispossessed. Mandar tracks back quickly to stop a Nepal counter-attack.

34' Oh my.. Sunil Chhetri misses an open goal!!! Possibly the best build-up play from India in the three matches as it moves the ball quickly through the right with Suresh running between the channel inside the box to play in a cut-back across goal, where Chhetri pokes it wide. Chhetri kicks the post in frustration.

32' Handball from Apuia on the left side of India's box from 35 yards. Shreshta goes for goal but Mandar is in the way to head it out.

30' Second foul from Brandon in as many minutes. Brings the player down after having given the ball away outside Nepal's box. He has to be careful here..

27' Manvir makes a surging run down the right and drills in a low cross towards Chhetri in the box, but the 'keeper Kiran Kumar swoops in to collect the ball.

24' Lovely switch of play from the Blue Tigers. Yasir plays a delightful diagonal long ball and Brandon chests it down and weaves his way past his marker. He makes room for himself and fires a low strike but fails to trouble the 'keeper.

21' Chhetriiiiiiiiiiii! He leaps high to connect well with Brandon's corner from the right but his header zooms wide. Bose, right behind Chhetri, was perhaps better suited to attempt the header.

19' Chhetri gets past the Nepal defence and has a go at goal from a tight angle and wins India a corner. That's the first one of the game!

17' Manish is on the run again, trying to get at the end of a long ball, but Gurpreet races off his line to clear the danger.

15' Another loose ball from Apuia outside India's box this time. Manish has possession and has a go form outside the box but his shot is off target.

11' India swinging in crosses and long balls into the box in the hope of finding Chhetri but unsuccessful in its attempts thus far.

9' Nepal's gameplan is clear. Hold its shape in defence and capitalise any mistakes from India in possession and hit them on the counter. India has obliged with a couple of sloppy passes in the middle of the park but Nepal hasn't punished them yet with the important final pass.

7' Apuia caught in trouble in the middle of the park but he is let off after the pass to find Manish Tangi's run in a one-one situation is cut out.

5' Brandon looks to thread a through ball for Manvir on the left but the Nepal centre-back intercepts it.

3' Yasir looks to dribble through two defenders on the right but is dispossessed. India wins a corner in the process. Brandon's corner is cleared first time at the near post.

2' Bose cuts out a pass from the back to find the run of Manish Tangi.

1' Suresh gets the match underway from the centre-circle. India will play in its white away kits.

FIRST HALF

Both teams are out in the middle.

India is placed fourth in the group with two points after two matches. Nepal is the table-topper with six points in two outings. If India loses this match, it will be out of reckoning for the SAFF Championship final.

We are just a few minutes away from kick-off. Meanwhile, the Indian women are already 3-0 up against Bahrain in the international friendly in the first half. Sangita, Pyari, Indhumathi are the goalscorers.

Nepal XI: Kiran; Gautam Shrestha, Rohit Chand, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Suman Aryal; Ananta Tamang, Tej Tamang, Pujan Uparkoti; Suman Lama, Manish Dangi, Sujal Shrestha

Five changes for India: Kotal, Apuia, Brandon, Yasir and Manvir start. Thapa, Martins, Seriton, Udanta, Liston make way from the goalless draw against Sri Lanka.

India XI: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Pritam Kotal, Rahul Bheke, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Desai; Suresh Singh, Apuia, Brandon Fernandes; Yasir Mohammed, Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh

Match Preview

With their pride hurt, the Indian men's football team is desperate to get back to a winning streak when it takes on Nepal in the ongoing SAFF Championship. With two matches left in the group stage, and both are must-win ones if India is to make the final.

“Nothing much has changed,” head coach Igor Stimac maintained in the official pre-match press conference. “We are here, and we are still alive in the Championship. We are still here to win the tournament,” he added.

Interestingly, the two teams had played two back-to-back International Friendlies in Kathmandu in the first week of September where India had won the second match 2-1, after having drawn the first.

READ | Durand Cup: A new city, a new approach, and a new champion

“We know them very well and have played twice against them. It’s an open game and if we play well, and do it right on the pitch, I am sure that we can win the game. There is no other option for us than to go out there and win it,” Stimac stated.

Nepal is leading the points table at the moment on 6 points having won both its matches against Maldives and Sri Lanka. “They may have a different approach. They may calculate while playing against us. But we are not worried about them. We will go out to do our job from the first minute itself,” the coach added.

The Blue Tigers had their practice session in the morning on Saturday, and the news from the camp is that there are no injury concerns with all 23 players available for selection.

Midfielder Brandon Fernandes insisted that the team has “everything to play for.”

Speaking at the official pre-match press conference, Brandon quipped: “We have had two disappointing results so far. Understandably, the mood was dull in the camp. But tomorrow we have everything to fight for. We are positive, and have prepared well for this game. Everyone is focussed in winning the match.”

Stimac echoed the same sentiment mentioning about the lack of discipline on the pitch. “We haven’t been disciplined enough on the pitch. For all those simple mistakes, we are currently on two points whereas we should have been on 6 points now,” he opined. “We know it will not be easy against Nepal. But we could win against them in Kathmandu, we can do it here too. But I reiterate that for that to happen we need to be committed and disciplined.”

Brandon, however, dismissed apprehensions that the Blue Tigers are thinking a bit too much about their opponents. “We are not thinking much about Nepal. Rather, we have been concentrating on what we need to do once it kicks off. Nepal are a good team and are in a good position at the moment. But each and every player is prepared – right from the 11 on the pitch to the bench -- everyone is ready to make an impact as and when called for.”

Brandon also lauded the coach for “giving us the confidence.”

“Every football match has its own pressure. But the coach has been giving us confidence and backing us. Tomorrow is a day when we need to show it on the pitch,” he uttered.

Everyone is aware, raring to go. ''The manner we see it is that we are in the quarterfinals at the moment. We need to win to get to the next one, and then to the next. But let it one at a time,'' Kotal expressed.

Complete Indian squad

Goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh, Vishal Kaith, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Chinglensana Singh Konsham, Mandar Rao Dessai, Rahul Bheke, Subhasish Bose, Seriton Fernandes. 

Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Lalengmawia, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Jeakson Singh, Glan Martins, Suresh Singh, Liston Colaco, Yasir Mohammad.

Forwards: Manvir Singh, Rahim Ali, Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary


Complete Nepal Squad

Goalkeepers: Kiran Chemjong, Bishal Shrestha, Deep Karki

Defenders: Rohit Chand, Ananta Tamang, Suman Aryal, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Gautam Shrestha

Midfielders: Sujal Shrestha, Bishal Rai, Sunil Bal, Suman Lama, Santosh Tamang, Tej Tamang, Pujan Uparkoti, Surajju Thakuri, Kamal Thapa, Ayush Ghalan, Nitin Thapa

Forwards: Anjan Bista, Aashish Lama, Manish Dangi, Nawayug Shrestha


Where can you watch?

The SAFF Championship will be telecast in India on Eurosport and Eurosport HD. It can also be watched live online on Discovery + App. Kick off at 9.30 pm IST.