Aashish Chaudhary strikes as Nepal edge Pakistan in SAFF Championship

BANGALORE (Agencies): Aashish Chaudhary struck late and powered Nepal to a narrow 1-0 victory over Pakistan in the ongoing South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship on Tuesday.

In the dead rubber Group A clash of the SAFF C’ship since both sides were already out of the race to qualify for the semi-final, Pakistan locked horns with Nepal in a bid to taste their maiden triumph in the tournament.

The two sides, however, put on an enthralling contest and made several attempts of scoring the opener.

Pakistan had the best opportunity to fire the opener in the 21st minute when Pakistan captain Hassan Bashir was fouled which resulted in a free-kick for Pakistan.

Otis Khan took the spot kick just outside the Nepal box but Syed Abdul Shah headed it over the crossbar.

Nepal had their best chance in the dying minutes of the first half as a brilliant build-up lifted them to finally breach the Pakistan defence.

Bimal Gharti Magar got the ball inside Pakistan’s penalty area and had only Pakistan goalkeeper Yousaf Ijaz Butt to beat but failed. The two sides went into the break with the scoreboard still intact at nill.

Following the break, both sides looked more determined and Pakistan also benefitted from fresh legs courtesy of triple substitution in the 63rd minute.
But it was Nepal who made lethal attempts to fire a late winner and they succeeded just 10 minutes before the conclusion of the regulation time.

Laken Lambu set up a perfect chance for the substitute Aashish Chaudhary, who fired a low strike to put Nepal into the lead. Nepal’s defence then managed to keep the blank sheet until the regulation time and a four-minute extra time as Pakistan succumbed to their third consecutive defeat in the SAFF Championship.

Earlier in the tournament, Pakistan suffered a 0-4 defeat against India and Kuwait respectively. Following their dismal show in the SAFF Championship, the green shirts finished at the bottom of the Group A standings.