Nepal coach Koji Gyotoku was ecstatic following the attritional win over Laos in their Solidarity Cup semi-final on Saturday.
The Gorkhalis came back from a goal down to level matters and eventually dominate a penalty shootout 3-0 in the heat of Kuching in Malaysia.
“It was a very tough game, our players played 120 minutes and this is our third match but in the last five months we had no friendly matches so the players were tired and heavy, but they didn’t stop running,” said the Japanese coach afterwards.
“We have one more match, the final and we need to prepare for our next match. It’s a very nice experience for me and for the players also to reach the final. I came to Nepal to develop Nepal football and this is on the way for the future. I think it’s very nice experience.
“This result is good, not so bad. Sometimes we were lucky, and sometimes we weren’t lucky. The players played better than before and this is good for us.”
Nepal will face either Brunei or Macau in the final on Tuesday. While Gyotoku is concerned at the short turn-around time for the players after such a marathon encounter, he heaped praise on their never-say-die attitude on the pitch.
“We have not enough time to rest, but I saw that my players played well today,” he added.
“I’m satisfied that all the players fought until the last minute and they showed our opponent that if we fight until the last minute we can score and draw. This is football and I respect the result and we have lost. But I’m not sorry, we just missed some points.
“We didn’t expect it to go to penalties because we tried to play for a decision in 90 minutes or in additional time so we didn’t concentrate on penalties. I was worried about our players (in the shootout) because I could see most of them had lost energy and in the end some of them had lost confidence. But this is football.”