Nepali women’s football team fail to break the jinx, lose to arch-rival India by 2-0In the final match played with arch-rival India at the Pokhara Stadium on Monday, Nepal lost 2-0 to the goals scored by Indian skipper and forward Bala Devi.
Nepali women football team’s dream to break the jinx and clinch their maiden gold medal in the women’s football tournament at the 13th South Asian Games has ended in a disappointment.
In the final match played with arch-rival India at the Pokhara Stadium on Monday, Nepal lost 2-0 to the goals scored by Indian skipper and forward Bala Devi.
It was the third consecutive defeat for Nepal against India in the final of the women’s football tournament in the regional sports meet. India had got the better of Nepal 3-1 in the 11th South Asian Games held in Dhaka, Bangladesh followed by a 2-1 win in their own backyard in the 12th edition. Nepal has faced India 14 times and eked out just a single win, played two draws and lost the remaining 11 matches.
In Monday’s match, Bala Devi put her team ahead in the 18th minute after stealing the ball from Nepali defenders. She took advantage of the situation where Nepal custodian Anjila Thumbapo rushed forward to grab the ball unsuccessfully.
India was ahead 1-0 in the first half. Bala Devi once again found the back of the net in the 55th minute and doubled India’s tally. She scored her second goal in one versus one situation, with the Nepali keeper once again caught out of position.
Nepali players squandered several goal-scoring opportunities. Striker Sabitra Bhandari failed to convert in a one versus one situation in the 6th minute. The opponent defenders parried the threat as she attempted to pass the ball to her teammates instead of attempting a shot on target herself.
The Nepali team appeared feeble before their opponents whom they had faced on Saturday’s group stage match. Nepal had lost the previous encounter 1-0. Despite the support of the home crowd, Nepal could not perform well.
In the 21st minute, a shot by Nepali midfielder Anita Basnet had ricocheted off the bar.
India, meanwhile, looked pretty confident and handled the pressure calmly. After the match, Indian coach Maymol Rocky expressed her happiness on retaining the gold. “The game was played as we expected. We are very happy. Nepali team is also very good,” she said.
Nepali head coach Hari Khadka announced his resignation after the defeat. “Our target was gold. But I failed. I won’t remain in the same post from now on,” said Khadka, owning up his responsibility for the defeat.
Khadka said both the goals in the final were possible due to the mistakes of Nepal. “There was a communication gap between the defenders and goalkeeper in the first goal. We conceded the second goal due to our own mistake,” he added.
Monday’s game was his third loss against India since he started managing the Nepali football team.
Soon after the final game, Nepali women’s football team skipper and forward Niru Thapa and defender Manamaya Limbu announced their retirement from the international game.