Defending champions India dished out yet another lacklustre performance to go down 1-2 against hosts Nepal but still managed to sail through to the semifinals of the SAFF Football Championships in Kathmandu on Thursday.
The six-time champions were clearly the inferior side in their last Group A match at a packed Dasarath Stadium and they were lucky to make it to the last four stage after Pakistan beat Bangladesh 2-1 in another simultaneous match.
India and Pakistan ended on four points behind Group A toppers Nepal — who garnered seven points from two wins and one draw — but Wim Koevermans’ men qualified for the semifinals as group runners-up having beaten Pakistan 1-0 in the head-to-head encounter.
The win was Nepal’s second against India in 12 matches in all-time head-to-head contest, according to FIFA records. The earlier win by Nepal was through penalty shootout in the 1993 SAF Games in Dhaka after the two sides were locked 2-2 after regulation and extra time.
In the semis, India will play the Group A winners which will be decided after Friday’s match between Maldives and Afghanistan.