Nepal settle for goalless draw against BangladeshNepali women face second draw against their South Asian rivals in their eight meetings with the last stalemate coming in 2018 during the Olympic Qualifiers.
A lacklustre Nepali women's team settled for a 0-0 draw against Bangladesh in their second international friendly football match at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwar on Sunday.
Nepal's Australian coach Gary Phillips made three changes in the starting lineup in comparison to the first friendly that Nepal won 2-1 and gave continuity to the 4-3-3 formation. He brought in goalie Anjana Rana Magar instead of Anjila Tumbapo Subba, replaced Manjali Kumari Yonjan with winger Anita Banset and brought Rashi Kumari Ghising instead of Sabita Rana in attack.
However, the changes could not make much impact for the hosts. Instead, they faced a second draw against Bangladesh among a total of eight matches played so far. The last time the two sides played a draw was during the first round of Olympic Qualifiers in Myanmar in 2018. It was also the second goalless draw played by the national women team since a 0-0 draw against India in the 2018 Olympic Qualifiers.
The home team, playing in the absence of prolific forward Sabitra Bhandari, out of action since February after she picked an anterior cruciate ligament injury, struggled in the finishing department.
"I am disappointed with the way we played. Maybe it was my fault because I changed the formation. We played with one defensive midfielder in Renuka Nagarkoti. She was the best player today. She was everywhere, but she did not have enough support," said Phillips, who played with two defensive midfielders in the last match.
The matches were played to prepare both teams for their upcoming AFC Asia Cup Women Qualifiers 2022 set to be held in Uzbekistan from September 18 to 24 .
"The games were about looking at different ways, trying players and creating opportunities for goals. We probably did not have enough pace and no clean chances today. Only training is not going to help, we need to play games. We will be ready by next week for Qualifiers," added the Australian.
Nepal started Bimala Chaudhary, Rashmi Kumari Ghising and Anita Basnet in the attacking department at the wet outfield of the Dasharath Stadium. Bangladesh dominated ball possession in the early exchange while the remaining period remained fairly balanced. Similar to Nepal, the visitors also lacked the cutting edge.
Nepal's captain Renuka Nagarkote said that they failed to meet their own expectations. "Though there was improvement in the performance, we had problems in the scoring department. There are lots of new players in the team and the combination was also not sound. But these matches have been helpful for us to learn a lot," said Nagarkote.
"We are playing in a different formation with the new coach and it has also been difficult to adapt us to the formation. But we will be ready by the time we play Qualifiers.”
Bangladesh wasted an opportunity in the sixth minute as Srimoti Sarkar took too much time to fire at the post after capitalising on an error by goalie Rana Magar.
Three minutes later, Nepal's Amrita Jaisi's volley from the edge of the box was caught by Bangladesh goalie Rupna Chakma in the second attempt. A minute later Saru Limbu's low strike in Anita Basnet cross was saved by the diving Bangladesh goalie Rupna Chakma.
In the 20th, Saru Limbu failed to connect Ghising’s pass inside the box allowing Bangladesh defender to clear it. Bangladesh almost surprised Nepal at the half-hour mark through Srimoti Sarkar but her shot went away after rolling on the bar.
There were no remarkable post attempts in the second half from both sides except for a 90th minute strike by Nepal's Saru Limbu from outside the area, only for goalie Rupna Chakma to grab it.
Nepal's midfielder Rajani Thokar marked debut for the national team in the 89th minute replacing Preeti Rai.
Bangladesh coach Golam Robbani Choton was pleased with his side's performance. "I thank my players. They played the whole 90 minutes with high intensity. Nepal are very strong and it was a good opportunity to prepare for the AFC Asia Cup 2022 Qualifiers," Choton said.