Footballer Bhandari to play AFC Women’s Club ChampionshipThe 26-year-old will play for Women’s I-League champions Gokulam Kerela FC in the event to take place in Uzbekistan from August 20 to 26.
Nepali international footballer Sabitra Bhandari is all set to join Women’s I-League side Gokulam Kerala FC to play the AFC Women’s Club Championship in Uzbekistan from August 20 to 26.
Bhandari, the star forward of Nepal and all time highest international scorer for Nepal with 38 goals to her name, will fly to join the Kerala-based side on Saturday.
The 26-year-old will also become the first Nepali player to feature in the AFC Women’s Club Championship, the premier women’s inter-country club football tournament being organised by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
“It's like a dream come true to play the biggest club football tournament of Asia,” said Bhandari who was one of the influential members of the team when they claimed the league title in the 2021-22 season. Before that, she played one season for Sethu FC and help them lift their maiden league title. “We will have two-week training before leaving for Uzbekistan and I will give my best to help the team win.”
Bhandari’s Gokulam will play the AFC’s West Zone tournament comprising Bam Khatoon of Iran, Orthodox Club of Jordan and Sogdiyona Jizzak of Uzbekistan.
Apart from the AFC Club event, Bhandari has also signed a contract to play Women’s I-League from Gokulam. She is also likely to play Kerala state league from the same team, but an official decision has yet to be made.
Bhandari is currently undergoing national team training to prepare for the sixth edition of the Women’s SAFF Championship to be held from September 6 to 19 in Kathmandu. Kumar Thapa has been appointed as the coach to lead the team.
“I have already informed the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) and the coach regarding my travel to India and for the AFC Club Championship. I will join the national team after returning from Uzbekistan. I would be able to join the national camp for at least one week before SAFF begins,” said Bhandari.
It will also be the first major tournament for Bhandari who made a comeback almost after a year in February earlier this year following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery in Qatar.