Nepal women defeat Bangladesh in first friendly matchDebutant forwards Sabita Rana and Preeti Rai score to give the hosts a 2-1 victory over Bangladesh in their first ever international match played at the Dasharath Stadium.
Nepal women’s national team made a winning debut at the Dasharath Stadium as they edged Bangladesh 2-1 in the first of the two-match international friendlies on Thursday.
Forwards Sabita Rana and Preeti Rai, who marked their first appearance in the national jersey, made their dream debuts, with both getting on the scoresheet in the first half.
It was the first time Nepal women’s national team played at the Dasharath Stadium despite starting their journey in international football in 1986.
Tohura Khatun reduced the deficit for Bangladesh in the late second half scoring her side’s only second goal against Nepal in seven matches. Their last goal against Nepal came during a 1-1 draw at the Olympic Qualifiers in Myanmar in 2018.
Playing in the absence of star forward Sabitra Bhandari, ruled out due to anterior cruciate ligament injury, coach Gary Phillips opted for 4-3-3 formation deploying debutant Rana, Rai and Bimala Chaudhary upfront.
"I was happy with some of the football we played, but we could not play quality football," said the Australian. "We had been training on artificial turf for a long time and we only had three sessions on grass. The [grass] ground was heavy due to the wet outfield and the players got tired in the later stage of the match."
Bangladesh started the match brightly, keeping the ball in possession and piling pressure in the Nepali box in the first 10 minutes. However, they lost their rhythm after conceding the first goal in the 13th minute and threatened only once in the first half. But the later stage of the second half saw the visiting side put consistent pressure and create frequent scoring chances.
Nepal broke deadlock in their very first remarkable attempt on goal as forward Rana headed Bimala Chaudhary's right flank cross from the area to beat an advancing Bangladeshi goalie Rupna Chakma. Chakma came forward to punch the ball but failed to get her hand on it.
Nepal doubled their advantage in the 23rd through Rai. She collected a defence-splitting pass from midfielder Saru Limbu and beat the advancing custodian Chakma with a strike from the outer edge of the area.
Player of the match Rai said her aim was to be better in the coming days. "I was not even in the U-19 national team, but the coach trusted me and gave me a chance in the starting XI. I will do my best to become an even better player in future," she said.
Bangladesh came close to scoring in the 35th but Mossammat Shopna shot wide from close range with only Nepali goalie Anjila Tumbapo Subba standing between her and the goal.
Nepal wasted a golden scoring chance four minutes into the second half as Rai ended up firing straight at goalie Chakma's hand from close range with only the shot stopper on her way.
Bangladesh piled pressure on Nepali post with some attractive moves in the late second half. In the 69th, Shopna sprinted the ball in the right flank and set up Monika Chakma inside the box but the latter failed to connect the ball in her header attempt. Bangladesh tested Nepali goalie yet again in the 79th, forcing Subba to punch Srimoti Sarkar's strike to safety.
Bangladesh's pressure was rewarded in the 83rd minute as substitute Tohura Khatun quickly ran with the ball and fired from the edge to cut the deficit. The ball entered the net following a deflection at Nepali defender Amrita Jaisi.
Bangladesh's last-ditch effort for equaliser was denied by goalie Subba as she dived to block Ritu Porna Chakma’s shot.
Apart from Rana and Rai, Sirjana Singh and Rashmi Kumari Ghising also made their comeback as late second-half substitutes.
Bangladesh coach Golam Robbani Choton said he was satisfied with the performance despite the defeat. "The girls played international football after a long time. We made two mistakes in the first half and that cost us dearly. But we came back in the second half and played really well. I hope we can take back some good things from this match," he said. "We can keep note of the mistakes we made today and come back stronger in the next game."
The next friendly will be played on Sunday.
The matches are being played to fine-tune both the teams’ preparations for AFC Women's Asia Cup 2022 Qualifiers set to take place later this month.