Nepali Starting XI: golie in yellow, Jumanu Rai (he never gets old does he?), Biraj Maharjan, Anil Gurung, Raju Thapa, Sagar Thapa (C), x, y, z, alpha, beta
Pakistan Starting XI: SADDAM HUSSAIN *add lightening effects in the background while wolves howl*, Butt, Very hairy dude, other less hairy dude, smiley dude, serious bloke, other Rehman, and remaining 4 players.
Game Highlights here.
Full Game here.
Last night saw Nepal host Pakistan in Dasarath Stadium, where the men in red managed to clinch a late equalizer to bolster their chances of progressing into the next round. With 4 points now firmly in the pocket, the destiny purely lies in Nepalese hands. A win against arch rival India will not only secure qualification but also prove the point that these men are a force to reckon with. But before I can even talk about the game ahead, I will have to look back and write down what I thought about the game against Pakistan.
1.Nepal has improved, significantly.
I watched the opening minutes of the Bangladeshi game earlier and was frankly taken aback by how they started the game. Bharat passed it to Anil who gave it back, someone over there did a dummy and up went a long ball into enemy territory as it nearly made its way to a player in red. The fluid nature in which the Nepali side played was not only aesthetically pleasing to watch but also showed that the players were comfortable with how they were playing. The same pattern continued against Pakistan, quickly intercepting the ball and playing aggressive attacking football. Most notably, ball control was better and the way the midfield turned around from their markers to open pockets of spaces was fun to watch.
Things have come a long way, it seems.
Last time I watched Nepal play was possibly the longest 90 minutes of ball watching I had to swallow. Long balls were either too long or the player had extraordinarily bad chest control skills, thru balls were not thru balls at all, headers were too high for short players, our striker looked like the original obese Ronaldo but without his awesome skills (Nirajan) and our goal keeper was finding it hard to fend off balls that bounced right in front of him (Malla). Not surprisingly, he even let one in.
But that was 4 years ago.
2. The left flank was the outlet.
I thought Pakistan’s right back was having a nightmare with Jumanu and Bharat both exploiting space on the left. Most of the better balls that were lofted into the box came from that region as both corners and free kicks were often rewarded from that side. Pakistan did, however, make changes to cope up with the pressure only to be faced with Tanka penetrating on the right after half time. You could sense the midfield’s dynamic slowly change to provide service through the right flank but as Pakistan focused on to defend the right again, Nepal quickly maneuvered the ball to the left. What was impressive was both the teams seemed to sense what the other was up to.
Looks like the team had to go through a hard tactic talk in half time.
3. Captain Fantastic
Their full back captain was amongst the stand out player for Pakistan. I lost the number of times he managed to neutralize a situation where Jumanu could have quite easily put it at the back of the net. Although he was found wanting during an aerial ball, he dealt superbly with lower balls.
4. Defense needs better communication:
Positioning play and communication is bread and butter for any defensive minded player. If you look at Mertesaker of Arsenal, you can see that his height prohibits him from running around as freely as full back partner Koscielny BUT his perfect positioning play ends up fending most of the attack. While you expect much less of the players from Nepal, they did a fairly decent job until this happened:
|Get a room maybe?|
The very hairy (facial) dude in white had an empty net all for himself but somehow managed to aim at the score board.
Which leads us to...
5. Abysmal Finishing :
While Pakistan got the goal from their first genuine attack, Nepal seemed to lack the ability to finish the job up in front of goal. Even if suppose, there was this certain Mesut Ozil who could provide excellent service from left or right, giving that how many clear headers we missed to hit the target, would not have possibly scored. However there was this one instance where the Pakistani keeper had to pull a fantastic save in the 60th minute when finally, we managed to get one header in instead of putting it onto the corner flag.
If we can only improve our finishing and build on the already impressive service from the flanks, we might actually cause India some serious problems.
We then had to see this…
6. Cultural differences in Celebration:
It seems Nepalese don't exactly know which god to remember when they score, so they just go absolutely mental.
7. Pakistan can play better Rugby:
Pakistan’s tactic at the dying stages of the game was simple: It’s not a game of football anymore. It looked more like “If you can’t get the ball, pull that sucker down” and they managed to do it with much ease. I was surprised that nobody was shown a second yellow since every one of them seemed to be cautioned. That the equalizer came from a free kick was telling.
8. The commentator should stop talking about how he just had a plate of MoMo:
The worst kind of torture ever. Just the thought of orgasmic dumplings makes you go nuts.