Maldives coach Istvan Urbanyi had complained of lack of practice ahead of the Nehru Cup but his wards did not let that handicap affect them as they beat Nepal 2-1 on Thursday to launch their campaign.Abdulla Asadhulla drew the first blood for Maldives in the sixth minute while Easa Ismail added another, late in the second half. It was even more special for the two as it was their debut match. Nepal pulled one back through Jumanu Rai in the injury time but it was not enough.Former SAFF champions Maldives were clearly the better side with their organised attacks and the ability to break the rivals’ defence.Mohamed Umair was the first to sound the warning bells for Nepal when he got a cross from the right but Arif Mohamed’s powerful header went just above the bar in the fourth minute of the match.Hardly had the Nepalese players regrouped when Waheed Rilwan came up with a beautiful solo effort on the right flank, only to be fouled by Biraj Maharjan just outside the ‘box’.Senior player Ali Ashfaq shot a curling free kick that was fisted by goal-keeper Riteesh Thapa. However, Abdulla Asadhulla was alert enough to tap in the ball to give Maldives the lead.After opening the account, Maldives came down even harder on their Nepalese rivals with Asadhulla and Umair playing the lead roles. The duo combined well upfront to create several in-roads from the flanks with Ashfaq contributing with his skilful dribbles.Maldives got a chance to score their second in the ninth minute when Nepal goalkeeper roughly tackled Ashfaq and was shown a yellow card. However, Umair’s curling free kick from right of the ‘box’ was fisted over the bar by Thapa.advertisementWhile Maldives looked dangerous, the answers from their rivals were few. Nepal’s only chance in the first half came when Bhola Siwal got a cross from Jagjeet Shrestha. But he headed the ball wide.Ashfaq, on the other hand, made life difficult for the Nepalese defenders with his solo runs. He would sometimes play from a deeper position and surprise his opponents with his speed.After the change of ends, Nepal came out a much better side. Their forwards had some chances but a goal eluded them.Nepal’s first chance came in the 48th minute, when Santosh Sahukula briskly from the centre of the field to pass the ball to an unmarked Bijay Gurung. But the stocky mid-fielder hesitated in shooting and lost possession of the ball.The chances still kept coming Nepal’s way but they failed to capitalise. They missed another close opportunity when Bharat Khawas headed a cross for Shrestha wide.However, Nepal got another spanking in the 77th minute when taking advantage of the poor defence Ahmed Rasheed got space to run down the right flank. He passed the ball to an advancing Ismail, who did no mistake to place the ball in the net.In the injury time, Nepal narrowed the gap when Jumanu shot a powerful right-footer off a cross from Sahukhala.Maldives next take on India and the host’s coach Wim Koevermans, who was present at the stadium, praised his next opponents. “Maldives looked in good shape. I have heard about Ashfaq and he is really good,” Koevermans said.His Maldives counterpart too praised the Indian team at the post-match press conference. “India is a very organised team. It is always difficult to play the host nation. We respect them,” he said.Today’s match: Syria vs Cameroon (7pm), Live on NEO Prime.