KATHMANDU, Nov. 16: Nepal marked one of the biggest days in their football history, lifting the AFC Solidarity Cup with a 1-0 victory over Macau at the Negeri Stadium in Kuching, Malaysia on Tuesday.
Midfielder Sujal Shrestha scored in the 29th minute to hand Nepal their maiden triumph in an AFC-organised event and third consecutive title in a year. Nepal had previously claimed the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in January in Bangladesh and followed the triumph with 12th South Asian Games gold in February in India.
Nepal’s international successes had been confined to the South Asian region, the biggest being the SA Games gold in 1988, 1993 and 2016. It was also Nepal’s first title under their new Japanese coach Gyotoku Koji who was appointed in March this year.
Solidarity Cup is a tournament contested by Asia’s lowly ranked countries who were eliminated from the first round of the joint qualifiers for 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asia Cup. Nepal were eliminated from the first round of the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers.
“I am really happy to clinch three titles in a row,” said Nepal skipper Biraj Maharjan after the win. “This is very important for us and football fans back home.” (TKP)