India beaten by Nepal, but make to SAFF Cup semis

Kathmandu, Sep 5 (IANS) A last gasp goal by Syed Rahim Nabi in their shock 1-2 loss to Nepal carried India into the semi-finals, thanks to their win against Pakistan after the two teams were tied on goal difference at the conclusion of the group phase of the SAFF Cup football tournament here Thursday.

Both India and Pakistan were tied on zero goal difference after Pakistan beat Bangladesh 2-1 in their last Group A match. But India moved into the final four on account of their 1-0 win against Pakistan.

Nepal also made the semi-finals as they top the teams from Group A. India will play either the Maldives or Afghanistan in the last-four.

It took an acrobatic Nabi's brilliant side-volley in injury time to silence the home crowd but only for a short spell. Nabi met Jewel Raja Shaikh's centre from the right to reduce the margin for India.

"We knew Nepal were a very good team. They were quick and have some very good quality players. They did threaten us but didn't have clear chances in the first half," national coach Wim Koevermans said.

"In the second half, we kicked long and it was easy for them to defend. I want to congratulate Nepal on their victory but at the same time, it was our aim to advance to the semis which we eventually did," he added.

"Players need to follow plan but it didn't really happen. We look forward to play the fourth final on 9th."

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