Substitute Manish Dangi scored four minutes from time with a brilliant counter-attacking move as Nepal started their SAFF Championship with a 1-0 win over hosts and defending champions Maldives on Friday.
Playing in front of a raucous crowd, Dangi capitalized on a counter-attacking move, got past three defenders and fired into the net in the 86th minute.
Maldives were superior with ball possession throughout the game but were kept at bay a composed defending from Nepal. Nepal had few opportunities to them but was unable to capitalize them.
Sujal Shrestha's shot in the 11th minute was collected easily while Rohit Chand could not time his shot properly a minute later. Nawayug Shrestha's header also lacked enough power to beat Maldives goalie. Maldives too had chances but were kept silent by Kiran Limbu who had few good saves to his name.
Head coach Abdullah Almutairi expressed his delight after winning the match. "It is good to win against Maldives in Maldives in SAFF Cup. I think we deserved the win and played well," said Almutairi. "We didn't give them chances in open play. They also missed chances from set-pieces," he added.
Goalscorer Dangi thanked coach Almutairi for having confidence in him to break the deadlock. "While substituting he said I can score the goal. I acted with my instincts and was emotional to score," said Dangi.
Earlier, Bangladesh defeated Sri Lanka 1-0 in the opening match of the Championship.
Nepal will now play their second match against Sri Lanka on Monday. The match will kick-off at 9 pm local time.