Maldives beat Nepal 2-1 in Nehru Cup Football tournament

New Delhi: Maldives kicked off their campaign in the Nehru Cup football tournament on a perfect note here today, posting a 2-1 win over Nepal, a result that has also left Indian coach Wim Koevermans impressed.

Abdullah Asadhulla struck as early as the sixth minute of the game, before Easa Ismail sounded the death knell on Nepal with a 77th minute strike at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.

Jumanu Rai reduced the margin with a good piece of work, but his strike (90+4) came a bit too late for Nepal to stage a fightback.

Both players scored on debut. It was all about Maldives as they dominated proceedings for a major part of the match.

The first 46 minutes were enough for Koevermans to form an opinion, especially about Maldives skipper Asfaq Ali, who was always on the prowl upfront.

"Both teams were good but Maldives looked stronger. Their number 7 (Ali) showed a lot of enterprise," Koevermans said at the break, when Maldives led 1-0.

Maldives` intent was evident from the beginning and they were rewarded when Abdullah scored off a rebound to put his side ahead.

Nepal`s Bikarsh Maharjan brought Waheed Rilwan down and while goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa saved Ali Ashfaq`s free-kick, he could not stop Abdullah from finding the back of the net.

It remained 1-0 till Rasheed Mohamed, on the counterattack, layed the ball for Easa to tap in.

There was something to cheer about for Nepal a little latter as Santosh Sahukhala dribbled past a couple of defenders to give the ball to Rai, who side-footed it into the back of the net.

Impressed he was for sure with Maldives` outing, but Koevermans was also confident about his team`s ability. The two teams clash on Saturday, and India would look to continue their winning run after recording a 2-1 win over Syria in the tournament opener.

"We are confident, the first match is always important as it always counts. The players had a good game," the Dutchman said.

He said there was no injury worries in the India line-up.

Maldives coach Isteven Urbanyi was contend with his team`s performance.

"We controlled the game throughout and I am really happy with the result. The players are a bit tired as they are coming after Ramadan," Urbanyi said.

Nepal coach said the team was not well prepared and that they played better in the second half.

PTI