MD6 - Group B: Nepal 0-1 Kuwait
Thimphu: Kuwait defeated Nepal 1-0 to secure a crucial three points in Group B of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Tuesday.
Bader Al Almotawaa opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark at the neutral venue of Changlimithang Stadium in Bhutan as Kuwait - on 10 points - moved within two of Group B leaders Australia.
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Kuwait, who defeated Nepal 7-0 in September, put their opponents under early pressure as Yousef Naser evaded his markers down the middle before forcing goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu into a fine save from a distance.
Nepal wasted an opportunity of their own in the 22nd minute as Abhishek Rijal blasted his effort over the bar from Sujal Shreshtha’s pass from inside the box.
The West Asians continued to dominate proceedings but could not find a way past as Faisal Alharbi and Mobarak Alfaneeni both had their efforts blocked in the 25th minute from inside the area.
Kuwait finally broke the deadlock in the 27th minute when Alharbi found Bader Al Almotawaa deep in Nepal territory with the captain firing a spectacular effort from above the box into the far corner of the net.
Nepal came close to levelling the score with five minutes left in the half but Ranjit Dhimal’s low drive off a corner was parried away by Kuwait goalkeeper Hameed Youssef.
Nepal tried to find their way back in the second half, but were unable to make the most of their opportunities as the Kuwaitis held firm in defence.
The South Asian team were almost punished for a defensive error in the 61st minute but Almotawaa fired his effort above the bar after a good team build-up.
Ravishankar Paswan came close to finding a breakthrough for Nepal in the 64th minute after finding his way through the Kuwait defence on the right flank but his low drive from the edge of the area was saved by Youssef.
Kuwait almost found their second goal in the 75th minute when Almotawaa’s lob found an unmarked Alfaneeni, who volleyed his effort straight into the arms of Kiran.
Kuwait will face Australia in March next year, while Nepal will meet Chinese Taipei.
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