Nepal´s 12-year long wait for making into knockout stage of the of SAFF Championship was rewarded on Tuesday(6th Dec) after Nepal played 1-1 draw against Pakistan and secured semifinal berth as the runner-up of group B at the JLN Stadium in New Delhi.
Nepal´s march toward victory ended in draw after Malaysian referee Nagor Aamir awarded penalty to Pakistan two minutes into second half and Samr Ishaq converted the spotkick to cancel Bharat Khawa´s 37th minute lead. Nepal’s goalie Kiran Chemjong was unable to prevent the goal despite getting hands on it. Pakistan was awarded with the penalty after defender Sandip Rai brought down Kaleem Ullah in the box.
Despite having equal five points as that of group topper Maldives, Nepal finished runner-up on the basis of goal inferiority. Nepal has scored three goals and conceded two while Maldives has scored four and conceded two goals.
The result also secured Nepal´s place for the semifinal since 1999 Goa SAFF Championship. Nepal will now meet the winner of group A, Afghanistan in the semifinal to be played on Friday.
However the good news was followed by head and chest injury of Nepal´s starting line up defender Rabin Shrestha during the match against Pakistan and was rushed to a nearby hospital. Shrestha picked up the injury in the 64th after he collided with Pakistani player Muhamad and became unconscious. But captain Sagar Thapa has assured that it is nothing very serious.