Nepali women team denied first silverware after Uzbekistan lossNepali forward Sabitra Bhandari finishes as tournament’s highest scorer with seven goals. She joins former skipper Anu Lama on top of all time highest scorer chart with 35 goals.
Nepali national women’s football team failed to materialise their dream of winning first silverware after losing 3-2 against Uzbekistan in the final of the Nadezhda Cup women’s football tournament in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday.
Nepali side produced an improved performance than their 2-0 league stage loss against the same opponents but failed to achieve their dream of winning maiden title despite playing their eighth final in the last nine years. Uzbekistan, ranked 57th spot ahead of Nepal, took lead in the 39th minute when Punam Jargha Magar’s poor clearance landed at the feet of Uzbekistan’s player who set it up for Lyudmila Karachik to score past Nepal’s goalkeeper Anjila Tumbapo Subba. They doubled their lead in the 55th minute after Dildora Nozimova unleashed a left-footed scorcher into the back of net.
Uzbekistan added their third 10 minutes later capitalising on defensive lapses of Nepal. Karachik fired from outside the box to send the ball at the bottom left corner of the post and scored her second goal of the final. Nepal pulled one back in the 67th minute through Sabitra Bhandari after a neat one-two with Saru Limbu. Bhandari added her second converting the penalty awarded in the first minute of stoppage time after Anita Basnet’s shot hit the outstretched hands of a Uzbekistan defender. Following her two goals in the final, Bhandari finished as highest scorer in the tournament with seven goals under her belt. She had also scored four against Kyrgyzstan and one against Tajikistan as Nepal played four matches in the tournament. Bhandari also equaled former Nepali international and captain Anu Lama’s record of the 35 goals, the highest international goal for the national side. The Armed Police Force striker had scored her first in her debut match against Bhutan in the 2014 SAFF Championship coming in as a 86th minute substitute. She has won 37 caps for the country.
The defeat against Uzbekistan means Nepali women’s team have gone eight finals without getting their hands on the trophy. Nepal side have reached the finals of SAFF Women’s Championship in four occasions losing each time to arch rival India. Nepali women’s team have also lost two South Asian Games football final against India.
After women’s football was included from the 11th South Asian Games, Nepal eased to the final on both occasions, losing to India. Nepal defeated hosts India in the Hero Gold Cup this year but lost 3-1 in the finals against Myanmar. That win against India remains as the only victory against their South Asian rivals in the history of Nepali women’s football.