India’s Rohit Kumar (L) vies for the ball against Nepal on Saturday. (Photo | PTI)
India’s Rohit Kumar (L) vies for the ball against Nepal on Saturday. (Photo | PTI)

Chhetri & Co two good for Nepal, book knockout berth

Only three players — Chhetri, Sahal Abdul Samad and Anirudh Thapa — were retained from the playing eleven against Pakistan.

BENGALURU:  Where would Indian football be without Sunil Chhetri? As he has done countless times during his two-decade-long international career, Chhetri was once again the inspiration, scoring one and creating the other, as India downed Nepal 2-0 in their SAFF Championships.

Only three players — Chhetri, Sahal Abdul Samad and Anirudh Thapa — were retained from the playing eleven against Pakistan. That showed as India struggled to get a grip on the game. As against Pakistan, they dominated possession but failed to create tangible going forward. Nepal, on the other hand, looked dangerous going forward and looked the likelier of the two teams to score.

That all changed in the second half. In the 61st minute, Naorem Mahesh Singh made a run down the left and fired in a low cross that found Chhetri, who was never going to miss a tap-in. Then, nine minutes later, Chhetri turned provider to Mahesh. The Indian captain’s shot took a deflection off Nepal keeper Kiran Limbu and then bounced off the crossbar. Mahesh, who was lurking at the far-post, nodded it in.
The win means that India has qualified for the knockout stages.

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