KATHMANDU, Sept 16: Nepali women´s maiden international title dream was shattered once again as it went down 3-1 against India in the final of the Second Women´s SAFF Championship on Sunday in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Despite taking the early third minute lead, Nepal failed to avert its losing streak against India. It was the fourth defeat of Nepal at the hands of India which succeeded to make the title hat-trick in South Asian football.
Earlier, Nepal had lost against India in the final of first edition of the tournament. Similarly, Nepal was also defeated during the group stage of 11th South Asian Games and also in the final of same event two years earlier in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Deepa Adhikari ignited Nepal´s hope with goal in the third minute as Nepal gave tough fight to India. But Nepal failed to utilize other goal scoring opportunities despite creating changes while India was successful in capitalizing opportunities. Supriya Rautre, Bembem Devi and Kamala Devi scored a goal each for India
Adhikari scored with a brilliant strike from the area in long pass of Anu Lama. Skipper Jamuna Gurung missed another chance in the fifth minute with a feeble shot from the area.
India replied eight minute later with an equalizer from Supriya Rautre. Beating an offside trap Rautre got an easy goal in pass from Sasmita Malik. India´s another threatening came attack came from freekick of Bembem Devi but was easily denied by Nepal´s custodian Namita Dali. Kamala Devi squandered another chance for India after getting the ball inside Nepal´s area due to misunderstanding of Nepali defenders.
India came up aggressively in the second half and took the lead in the 67th minute taking advantage of Nepal´s custodian Dali´s error in judgment. Dali let the Bembem Devi´s freekick go under her arms.
India´s Bem Bem Devi dribbles past Nepali players. (Photo: NSJF)
Four minutes later, Dali prevented Kamali Devi in one-versus-one position. Nepal squandered a chance to equalize in the 74th minute. Krishna Bhandari made feeble strike from the area in Adhikari´s pass.
While Nepal squandered scoring chances, India was successful in utilizing them. Kamala Devi scored third goal for the defending champion to shatter Nepal´s hope of comeback in the match. Kamala Devi controlled the freekick given by Tuli Gun in area and beat goalie Dali.
Nepal´s coach Kishor KC commented that the second goal conceded by Nepal became the turning point of the match. "Everything was going well before the interval but conceding the second goal due to custodian´s mistake was a turning point of the match," KC said adding, "India tightened its grip in the match after scoring second goal."
KC also opined that Nepal still need to improve a lot despite putting brilliant show in the match. "We should groom sharp strikers and defenders. But playing only at the national level will not be sufficient for that. Our team needs international exposure."
India´s coach Mohmmad Shahid Jabbar said that the match and result was to his expectations. "We felt bit difficult after Nepal took early lead but we got the score in right time. Nepali team does not have quality players as that of India."