By Rojita Adhikari
GUWAHATI, Feb. 15, 2016 – Nepal won the South Asian Games men’s football gold defeating India in the finals played at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Monday.
Trailing by a goal in the first half, Nepal bounced back strongly in the second half bagging both the goals to claim the title after 23 years. The last time Nepal won the gold was in 1993 defeating India in the finals.
Nepal coach Raju Kaji Shakya had skipper Nepal to gold in 1993.
A dominant performance by India in first half saw them take the lead in the 33rd minute through a penalty by Halicharan Narzary. The penalty was awarded after Aditya Chaudhary brought down Kumam Udanta Singh in the penalty box. Though Bikesh Kuthu had guessed it right, he failed to get his hands to it.
Nothing went right for Nepal in the first half as miss passes and lack of possession allowed India to dominate the field entirely.
Nepal found their rhythm after the interval and restored parity in the 66th minute through Prakash Budathoki who had come in for Man Bahadur Tamang in 41st minute. Prakash nested his freekick in top corner leaving India keeper helpless. The freekick was awarded for a foul on Anjan Bista.
Nawayug Shrestha bagged Nepal’s winner in the 72nd minute connecting Anjan Bista’s cross. Several minutes later, Bishal Rai saw his effort cleared from the goal mouth. India, on the other hand, had a handful of opportunities but the defense and goal keeper Bikesh Kuthu stood up to the challenge.
Commenting on the match, Nepal coach Raju Kaji Shakya said that his team failed to perform in the first but a change in strategy in the second saw them get the better of India.
“ Kumam Udanta Singh and Halicharan Nazary were doing a lot of damages for us in the first half, but in the second we marked them tightly and got the goals.
“ This result is the outcome of tremendous hard work by the entire team. We deserved the victory,” said Shakya.
India coach Lee Alan Johnson said that India had dominated the entire field in the first half but failure to take chances that came their way denied them of the win.
“ We created chances in the second half as well but in football when you don’t take the chances that come your way, we will lose. The freekick scored was world class. No keeper in the world could have stopped that from going in,” he added.