A brace from Anjan Bista drove Nepal to a 2-0 triumph over hosts Taiwan for the first win in their joint FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup Group ‘B’ qualifying match at the Taipei Municipal Stadium in Taipei on Tuesday.
Bista, who was included in the initial lineup after playing only for a few minutes as a substitute upon Kuwait on September 5, netted either side of the break to render Nepal three precious three points. Bista began the scoring in the third minute and added the second in the 85th minute. The goals were his first in the national jersey after making debut for Nepal against Philippines friendly in October 2014. He arrived as a late substitute in Nepal’s 7-0 downfall away to Kuwait. It was his 29 caps for the national team.
Both teams went into the match regarding their first point as Taiwan had also lost 2-1 against Jordan at their first home match. The triumph came as a big relief for Nepal’s Swedish coach Johan Kalin. It was Kalin’s first win following taking over restraints of the Nepali national team on March 1. He had gone winless for six matches including four international friendlies as well as against Malaysian club Johor Darul Ta’zim FC and the lost one against Kuwait last week.
It was Nepal’s first supremacy over Taiwan in only the second encounter. The only prior clash between the two teams was an international friendly, which had ended in a 1-1 draw on June 6. It was also the first away achievement for Nepal in the World Cup Qualifier for Nepal.
Nepal’s started the match with three variations from the Kuwait match. Along with Bista, defenders Ranjit Dhimal and Dinesh Rajbanshi were included in the starting lineup. Defenders Suman Aryal, Ajit Bhandari and midfielder Bikram Lama were left. Bhandari did not travel with the team after bearing leg injury in the last match.
Playing with a lone forward in Bimal Gharti Magar, Nepal made a breakthrough in the third minute. Bista gained on a freekick from Sujal Shrestha to give Nepal the headship. The hosts, who are placed 41 spots higher than Nepal in the FIFA rankings [166th], controlled the ball possession and retained on piling pressure but failed to crush the stubborn defense.
Nepal established their nerves in the 85th minute when Bista doubled their lead, scoring in a counter-attack. Shrestha was again the architect of the second goal as he went in to set up Ravi Paswan’s long cross for Bista to score. The midfielder managed the ball and slammed an effective shot to stun Taiwan goalkeeper Pan Wen-Cheh.
Kalin said that it is always nice to get a win and he feels good with the results and they had tough experience with Kuwait a few days earlier after which they need to step up a bit. He said that the boys put on a very good execution today. A good performance led them to secure all three points. Asked if it was his tact to score on set-piece situations he said: No, but they wanted to use set pieces and all other opportunities. He had been saying that they were in a rebuilding process and this victory is just a step forward to that direction.
The group also involves Australia and Jordan. On October 10 and Jordan on October 15 Nepal will visit Australia. The double round-robin Qualifiers will be performed at home and away format. Collectively 40 teams of Asia are split into eight groups of five teams each. The eight group victors and four best runners-up will achieve places to the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Finals in China. The outstanding 24, excluding for the four bottom-placed teams, who fail to pass the joint Qualifiers barrier will have added shot at scoring tickets to the AFC Asian Cup. The 24 teams will battle it out for another 12 berths for the Asian Cup.