Kathmandu, May 22
Nepal national team striker Sabitra Bhandari scored a brace as Sethu Football Club won the title of the Indian Women’s League at the Guru Nanak Stadium in Ludhiana, Punjab today.
Sethu FC defeated Manipur Police Sports Club 3-1 in the final of the tournament riding on two goals from Bhandari, who is popularly known as Samba in football fraternity.
Bhandari’s fellow national team midfielder Anita Basnet was also the member of Sethu team that won the league for the first time.
Sethu fell behind in the 43rd minute when Radharani Devi headed home from the box following a corner to go into the break with a 1-0 lead.
Sethu skipper Indumathi levelled the scores in the 56th minute. Fed by Bhandari from the midfield, Dangmei Grace crossed the ball for Indumathi across the goal and the Sethu skipper did no mistake in slotting the ball into the nets.
Bhandari then put Sethu ahead four minutes later.
Bhandari received the ball from Indumathi to score her first goal of the match.
The duo combined to make it 3-1 in the 70th minute. A clever pass from Indumathi was enough for Bhandari to make a clinical finish for her second goal and she was later named the player of the match.
Bhandari, who found the back of the nets in six of the seven matches she played in the third edition of the Indian Women’s League, scored a total of 15 goals including three hattricks.
Bhandari is the second highest scorer for the Nepal national team with 28 goals in 30 matches.
Bhandari and Basnet became first women footballers from Nepal to play professional league. The duo, who had earlier played professional futsal tournament in the Maldives, earned contracts from Tamilnadu-based Sethu FC after they impressed the Indian team officials with their performance in the Hero Gold Cup held in Guwahati and Women’s SAFF Championship played in Biratnagar.
Nepal had defeated heavyweights India and Iran in the league round on their way to making it to the final of the Hero Gold Cup in February before losing to Myanmar in the championship match.
In the SAFF Championship final in March, Nepal faced a 3-1 defeat at the hands of India.
A version of this article appears in print on May 23, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.