FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Nepal clear Laos challenge to qualify for World Cup qualifiers Round 2

Khel NowKhel Now

October 17 2023
FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: Nepal vs Laos
(Courtesy : AFC)

Nepal will play against UAE, Bahrain & Yemen in Round 2

Nepal secured their progress from the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 after they edged Laos 1-0 at the New Laos National Stadium, completing a 2-1 aggregate win on Tuesday.

The result takes Nepal through to Round 2, in Group H together with United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen – starting their campaign with an away trip to UAE on November 16.

With plenty at stake, it was no surprise to see both sides sizing each other up in the opening exchanges. Laos’ goalkeeper Xaysavath Souvanhansok had some early catching practice but nothing too troubling for the 25-year-old.

The first real opportunity fell to Laos’ forward Kydavone Souvanny, who turned well on the edge of the box before hitting a shot across goal. Nepal’s Kiran Chemjong was equal to it, pushing the strike away from danger and relieving the pressure.

The next big chance fell to Nepal’s Utsav Rai, who met a cross field ball into the box with a well timed run but failed to keep his header on the target from ten yards out.

With five minutes to go until half time, Chony Wenpaserth plucked the ball out of the air beautifully, turning onto his left foot only for his strike to go wide. A half with plenty of fouls was beginning to carve out key opportunities for both teams.

Nepal started strong in the second half. Manish Dangi’s clever movement saw his left-footed strike getting Souvanhansok called into action once more.

A few minutes later, the midfielder finally got his goal. Utsav Rai’s impressive work saw him run into the box and roll it to his teammate who fired home from close range in the 53rd minute.

The visitors began to completely control the game, moving the ball between the lines well. Despite tactical changes, Laos struggled to create anything meaningful. Nepal looked the more likely to add a second, with forward Jung Karki Gillespye trying his best to get on the scoresheet.

Substitute Chanthaviphone Phoumsavanh was only on the pitch a matter of minutes before he almost wrapped up the victory with a header but couldn’t direct his effort on target.

Laos appealed for a penalty in the 81st minute when they found a rare moment in Nepal’s area but the referee was quick to dismiss their claims. Then, in the 95th minute, Nepal’s goalkeeper Chemjong pulled off a magnificent save from a towering header to deny Laos an equaliser at the death.

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