India slip in the slush, held to a goalless draw by Nepal
India's Nehru Cup title-defence hit its first roadblock - or drifted into troubled waters, if you will - as Sunil Chhetri & Co were held to a goalless draw by Nepal at a water-logged JLN Stadium on Tuesday.
The match started 30 minutes late due to a torrential downpour early in the evening. Even then, the turf was drenched as rain fell pitter-patter through the first-half.
Nepal controlled much of the early exchanges and at one point earned four successive corner-kicks. As the pitch dried out, India's substitutes created chances with both Robin Singh and Jewel Sheikh Raja coming close only to be denied by the brilliance of Nepal custodian Kiran Chemjong.
The draw leaves India on 7 points. However, if Maldives beat Cameroon on Wednesday, things could get tricky for Wim Koevermans's team before their final group match against Afric-ans. If Cameroon beat Maldives, India will be assured of a third successive Nehru Cup final.
Looking casual in the first half, India upped the ante after the hour mark. Striker Robin, who was used as a substitute in the first match as well, gave India a greater physical presence and help them launch long balls at a target man.
He would hold up play well and was at times bullying the physically weaker Nepal centre-backs.
India created their first chance in the 52nd minute, but Anthony Perreira's curling strike heading to the top-left corner was acrobatically tipped over Chemjong.
In the 80th minute, substitute Raja made a dashing foray into the Nepal box but his dink was deflected wide of the far post by Chemjong. A minute later Robin thundered home a left-footed pile-driver but Chemjong was again up to the task.