Nepali women eye first ever football silverware

- PRAJWAL OLI, Kathmandu

Feb 15, 2019-

Nepali women football team is on the verge of creating history by winning their first ever international title when they take against Myanmar in the final of the Hero Women’s Gold Cup football tournament at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India, on Friday.

Despite making their debut in the international football in 1986 through AFC Women’s Championship, Nepal have failed to claim a single international title so far. They have made it to the title showdown of SAFF Women’s Championship thrice (2010, 2012 and 2014) but ended up on the losing side on all occasion of the biennial tournament.

Football was included in the South Asian Games (SAG) in 2010 while it also featured in 2016. On both the occasions, Nepal lost to India in the final. But Nepal’s losing jinx against India came to an end during the tournament in Bhubaneswar where they finally beat their neighbours 2-1 in the group stage on Monday. It Nepal’s first victory over India in 10 encounters since 2010. While India had won seven matches, two matches had ended in draw.   

“I was looking to end the losing jinx against India and instil confidence in the team which we did. The victory was a huge boost to the team ahead of the Iran match,” said Khadka, whose team beat Iran 3-0 to secure the final berth.  

Nepal had opened the tournament with a 3-0 loss against Myanmar, the tournament favourite who are 44th in the FIFA Women’s World rankings, before defeating India and Iran. Although the match will provide an opportunity to avenge the defeat of the first match, Myanmar will be a tough nut to crack. Nepal are far behind at 108th position in the FIFA rankings. “Myanmar are really a strong side. They are technically and tactically better than us,” said the former national team captain Khadka who will play with single forward in Sabitra Bhandari, the highest scorer so far with four goals.

According to Khadka, the difference while playing against the Myanmar for second time will be level of confidence. “The fighting spirit has been remarkable after wins against two strong opponents. We will look for opportunities to score in counter attack strategy while making our defence compact. We must not  allow time and space for their strikers,” said Khadka whose team had played 1-1 draw in the first round of the Asian Qualifier for the 2020 Olympics in November in Myanmar.

Published: 15-02-2019 11:48

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