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SAFF warm-up: India rally to hold Nepal

September 02, 2021 21:42 IST
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Anirudh Thapa, No. 7, celebrates with teammates after restoring parity for India in the international friendly against Nepal, in Kathmandu, on Thursday.

IMAGE: Anirudh Thapa, No. 7, celebrates with teammates after restoring parity for India in the international friendly against Nepal, in Kathmandu, on Thursday. Photograph: AIFF Media/Twitter

Substitute Anirudh Thapa’s goal earned India a 1-1 draw against Nepal in an international men's football friendly, in Kathmandu on Thursday.

Thapa scored for the Blue Tigers in the 60th minute after Anjan Bista gave the home team the lead in the 36th.

 

Liston Colaco was a constant threat down the left flank, troubling the Nepal defence with his pace and dribbling, while goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was called into action on a few occasions to deny the hosts success.

Nepal took the lead in the 36th minute through Bista, who pounced on a loose pass in the Indian defence and sent the ball into the net.

Down by a goal at half-time, India made a host of changes, with Thapa and Sahal Abdul Samad coming into their midfield positions, and Seriton Fernandes and Rahim Ali being brought on as well for their respective senior India debuts.

Thapa's free-kick in the 50th minute caused havoc inside the Nepal penalty box as the ball fell to skipper Sunil Chhetri but he was denied by an onrushing custodian Kiran Limbu.

Three minutes later, Chhetri almost found the back of the net with a trademark header. Manvir crossed from the right flank and the Chhetri headed the ball at the far post but his effort was just wide of the target.

The Blue Tigers restored parity through substitute Thapa, who showed great awareness to poke the ball home from close range.

Rahim almost added a quick second goal with a curling effort from outside the penalty area soon after, but his shot went just past the upright.

The teams will be in action again on Sunday in the second international friendly at the same venue.

The matches being player in preparation for next month's SAFF Championships in the Maldives.

The five-team SAFF Championships will be held from October 3 to October 13 at the National Stadium in Male.

Besides India, the other participating teams are Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, hosts Maldives and Nepal.

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