Nepal national football team defeated Bangladesh 2-1 in an international friendly match here at the Dasharath Stadium here today.

Sabita Rana and Preeti Rai scored one goal each in first half for the home team in their first-ever international match at the Dasharath Stadium, while Tohura Khatun replied for Bangladesh in the latter half. The two sides will meet again in second and final match on September 12.

Playing without star striker Sabitra Bhandari, the home team opened the scoring in the 14th minute after Sabita Rana headed home following a cross from Bimala Chaudhary at a time when Bangladesh goalkeeper Rupna Chakma had come out to punch the ball. Rana found the back of the nets in her debut match. The highest scorer of all time, Bhandari is currently recovering in Qatar after undergoing operation.

Another debutant Preeti Rai doubled the lead nine minutes later when she slotted home a powerful shot from outside the box. Srijana Singh and Rashmi Kumari also made their national team debuts in the match. In the only attempt created by the visiting side in the first half, Mossammat Moushumi shot inches wide off the post from close range in the 35th minute.

Preeti Rai was denied by Bangladesh custodian Chakma following a pass from Saru Limbu in the 49th minute, while Nepal goalkeeper Anjila Tumbapo Subba saved a shot from Srimoti Sarkar in the 79th minute.

The visitors reduced the deficit in the 83rd minute after substitute Tohura Khatun guided the ball alone from around 30 yards out before scoring past Nepal custodian Subba. Preeti Rai of Nepal was named the most valuable player of the match and she earned Rs 25,000.

Nepal coach Gary Phillips was satisfied with the result but he was not pleased with the overall show from the girls. "Somehow we played well but we didn't play quality football," said Phillips after the match. "There were a couple of very good moments of the match and the second goal (scored by Preeti Rai) was an example," he added. "The players had a little time to train on natural pitch and this ground was heavy for them."

Bangladesh coach Golam Robbani Choton said his girls played competitive match for the first time after a long break. "The players did very well in the match. I am satisfied with the performance of the team that came here with just six-week preparation," said Choton. "I hope we'll come up stronger and put in an improved show in the second match."

A version of this article appears in the print on September 10 2021, of The Himalayan Times.