India down Nepal in second international football friendly

Farukh Choudhary and Sunil Chhetri were among the goals for the Indian football team while Suman Lama pulled one back for the hosts.

By Naveen Peter
Picture by All India Football Federation

The Indian football team beat Nepal 2-1 in their second international friendly at the Dasharath Stadium, Kathmandu on Sunday.

Farukh Choudhary scored his maiden goal for the national team in the 62nd minute while captain Sunil Chhetri added another in the 80th minute. Suman Lama was the only Nepal player to find the back of the net in the 86th minute.

Having held India to a 1-1 draw in the first friendly on Thursday, Nepal started the encounter on a positive note. Though their head coach Abdullah Al Mutairi made a few changes, the team didn’t lose its shape and probed the Indian defence soon after the kick-off.

Manish Dangi was the first to come close to scoring for Nepal. After latching onto a Tej Tamang delivery, the 19-year-old lost his footing, which allowed Amrinder Singh, who replaced Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in the Indian goal, time to collect the ball.

Another youngster, Aashish Lama, also got a superb opportunity to open the scoring. This time, it was Ayush Ghalan who whipped in a delightful ball from the right flank that beat the Indian centre Chinglensana Singh with ease. But Aashish Lama was slow to react as India heaved a sigh of relief.

The trio of Ayush Ghalan, Tej Tamang and Manish Dangi looked solid in Nepal’s defensive line and didn’t allow India much joy in attack. While Sunil Chhetri was often double teamed, attackers Manvir Singh, Anirudh Thapa and Rahim Ali failed to impress.

Winger Bipin Singh was the only positive for India as the Mumbai City FC player proved to be a livewire on the left flank with his darting runs. He combined with Subhasish Bose to produce a few goal scoring opportunities too. But India was let down by its misfiring forwards.

The second half saw the Indian football team throw Farukh Choudhary into the mix. The forward, who plays for Jamshedpur FC in the Indian Super League, ensured he made the most of the opportunity and scored his maiden goal for the national team.

Chinglensana Singh’s hopeful cross from the deep was diverted into Farukh Choudhary’s path by Sunil Chhetri. The 24-year-old forward took a touch to set himself up before guiding the ball past the Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Limbu just after the hour mark.

Though the hosts came close to drawing parity in the following minutes, they failed to make the chances count. Sunil Chettri, however, was up to the task and scored India’s second goal of the evening. 

Hitting on the counter, Anirudh Thapa was quick to beat Nepal’s last man with a timely header which set up Chhetri with just the goalkeeper to beat, an opportunity that the Indian football legend did not miss.

Though Suman Lama pulled one back from Nepal late in the game, it was too little too late for the hosts.