APF fuel title prospects with eighth straight winThe departmental giants, who hammer Chandrapur 8-0 on Wednesday, can seal the women’s league title with three more wins even if Army continue their winning streak.
Champions Armed Police Force (APF) Club boosted their hopes of retaining the National Women’s League title on Wednesday after the leaders racked up their eighth consecutive victory flattening sixth-placed Chandrapur Municipality 8-0 at the ANFA Complex.
Bhagawoti Thapa’s side are the only team unbeaten in the league, with maximum 24 points from eight matches, and if remain unsubdued, can seal the title before they meet second-placed Tribhuvan Army Club in the final day, even if the chasing departmental side [Army] maintain their winning run for three more games.
Both the teams have four more games in hand. Army have 19 points — with their only loss coming against APF on January 26 after playing a goalless stalemate in the January 20 league opener — have no options left but to plot APF fall to a shocking loss once or at least draw in the next three matches and keep winning themselves.
The leaders next face Waling Municipality, Nepal Police Club and Biratnagar Metropolitan City before going to the Dasharath Stadium. However, even if APF play a draw against any of them, it might not give Army — provided they remain victorious in the remaining three matches – enough advantage to seize the title on the final day due to the superior goal differences.
APF had scored 10 more goals in the opponents’ posts than Army without conceding one even before Wednesday and the champions forced their superiority thanks to Sabitra Bhandari double hat-trick and Anita Basnet brace.
Chandrapur looked dejected, perhaps due to their 6-0 first leg loss against their harsh opponents and APF took the lead just after 20 seconds when Bhandari set up Basnet, who comfortably slided past a down-hearted goalkeeper Yunisha Rai.
Bhandari had scored a hat-trick against the same side in their first meeting, and showed no mercy doubling the lead in the 6th minute with her solo effort.
Chandrapur were pegged back most of the time, failing to manage even a single shot, and conceded again in the 32th. APF were awarded a free kick after a handball from Sushma Maharjan and striker Bhandari coolly finished from the edge of the box.
Bhandari completed her first hat-trick of the game two minutes after the break after the goalkeeper needlessly proceeded toward second-half substitute Anu Lama, who connected the tournament’s highest scorer enabling her to tap into an empty net.
Basnet got her second in the 54th firing from distance, and Bhandari converted a pass from Saru Lama six yards out at the hour mark to make the score 6-0, before adding another two mintues later after Chandrapur defender Saru Waiba cleared the ball straight into the path of Bhandari.
Bhandari then polished off the leaders’ eighth victory in a row in the 79th volleying over advancing goalkeeper Rai from the right of the penalty area after she was set up by defender Manamaya Limbu.
The victory increased the departmental giants’ lead at top over Army to five points, who take on Biratnagar on Thursday, before facing Chandrapur and Police in the next two fixtures.
“To win with such a big goal difference is always good. Players were outstanding… but not in the first half,” said APF coach Thapa.
Chandrapur coach Noorraj Kafle said they will play to win at least two games next.
“We have four matches left now. We need to win at least two,” said Kafle whose side remain in sixth with six points after six defeats.
Waling will face winless club Chaudandigadhi Municipality in Thursday’s another fixture.