Kathmandu, October 26 Rekha Poudel scored both the goals as Nepal defeated India 2-0 to keep their hopes alive in the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship at the Chonburi Stadium in Thailand today.
After a goalless first half, Poudel scored two goals in the second half to register their first victory of the tournament. Hosts Thailand are at the top of the table with six points, while Nepal and India have three points each.
Pakistan, who suffered their second successive 18-0 loss in the day’s second match against Thailand, are yet to open their accounts.
Poudel opened the scoring in the in the 59th minute when she beat the off-side trap before firing home from close range. Poudel doubled the lead two minutes before the end with a beautiful chip over advancing Indian goalkeeper. Poudel
will miss the team’s third and final match of the qualifiers after she collected second yellow card today.
Nepal had faced a 3-0 loss at the hands of Thailand in the opening match, while India had thumped Pakistan 18-0 in their previous game.
Nepal coach Hari Om Shrestha said the match against India was a tough one. “It was not an easy game. But we knew we could beat India if we perform to our potential and the girls played really well today,” said Shrestha after the match.
“We failed to utilize the chances in the first half but Rekha Poudel played exceptionally well in the second half. She deserves all the credit for the victory,” Shrestha added.
Regarding the chances of qualifying for the second round, Shrestha said he was confident of earning the berth. “I think
the match against Pakistan will be easy as we had defeated them 13-0 in our previous meeting. We are confident of qualifying for the second round,” he added.
India coach Alex Ambrose said Nepal deserved the victory and they lost to a better team. “We did not score on the chances that came our way and that made all the difference. We lost against a better side today,” said Ambrose. “But we will try to beat Thailand and stay in contention to qualify for the second round,” he added.
Top team each from all six groups — except for Thailand who have automatically qualified as the hosts of the final round regardless of their performance in the first round — will advance to the second round of the qualifiers along with two best runners-up.
The eight teams will then be divided into two pools and top two sides each will join four already-qualified teams — Japan, North Korea, China and Thailand — in the finals.