Friday, July 19, 2024

SAFF Championship 2023: Kuwait beat Nepal 3-1 in tournament opener

Kuwait downed Nepal 3-1 in the opening match of the SAFF Championship 2023 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, here on Wednesday.

The Middle East nation, playing in the SAFF Championship for the first time as one of the two teams invited from outside the region, dominated the proceedings right from the get-go, producing waves of attacks to put pressure on the Nepal defence.

Nepal, on the other hand, played on the counter and fought hard to penetrate into the final third.

The first real opportunity came Kuwait’s way in the 23rd minute and they capitalised on it to take the lead. Khaled Hajiah was left unmarked inside the box and the skipper made no mistake in heading the ball home from a corner.

Kuwait kept marching forward in search of another goal and came tantalisingly close to scoring in the 36th minute. However, they were denied by the woodwork and the scoreline remained 1-0. But it didn’t stay for long as they eventually doubled the lead in the 42nd minute, courtesy Shabaib Alkhaldi’s brilliant footwork inside the box and the subsequent finish.

Kuwait continued from where they left off in the first half and almost scored a third in the process, minutes after the restart. Nepal, in the meanwhile, too looked a better version of themselves as compared to their first half performance.

In the 57th minute, they almost pulled one back following a wonderful team move. However, Sanish Shrestha’s diving header missed the goal as the ball bounced inches off the target.

But Kuwait piled more misery on Nepal when they made it 3-0 in the 65th minute. Rohit Chand handled the ball inside the box and the referee pointed straight towards the penalty spot. Mohammad Abdullah made no mistake in slotting it home as Kuwait took the game further away from their opponents’ reach.

Four minutes later, Nepal did score one back. Anjan Bista capitalised on a defensive error and beat goalkeeper Abdulrahman Marzouq from close range to make it 3-1. However, it would only go on to count as a consolation for his side as Kuwait held on to their lead and sealed the win.

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