Nepal go down to India, again

Kathmandu, January 2

Nepal were knocked out of the fourth Women’s SAFF Championship following a 3-1 defeat at the hands of India in the semi-final match at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri today.

Kamala Devi Yumnam, Indumathi Kathiresan and Sasmita Malik scored a goal each for the three-time defending champions India, while Sabitra Bhandari netted the solitary goal for Nepal, who were runners-up in all three previous editions. This is the first occasion the two teams faced each other in the semi-finals of the championship. Out of the total eight meetings between the two teams, India have now won seven matches including five in finals — three in SAFF Championship and two in South Asian Games. The 2016 SA Games group-stage match ended in a goalless draw in Shillong.

On Monday, India scored a goal in the first half and added two more after the interval, while Nepal scored from the spot in the second half. Yumnam opened the scoring for India in the 44th minute, while Kathiresan found the back of the nets in the 59th minute to double the tally. Nepali striker Bhandari cut the deficit in the 75th minute through a spot kick. However, Malik restored the two-goal advantage with a goal in the 84th minute to put the issue beyond doubt.

Nepal head coach Kumar Thapa blamed poor judgment of referees for the outcome. “We had three clear penalties denied and the first goal scored by India was an offside. Overall, the quality of referee we saw is not what you expect in the match of such stature. It is not only us, even the opposition team was unhappy with how the match was officiated,” Thapa told the official website of All Nepal Football Association. Anisur Rahman of Bangladesh had conducted

the match between Nepal and India.

However, Thapa lauded his players’ performance. “We played well but could not get the goals when needed. They kept tight marks on (Sabitra) Bhandari and we had some chances but we just could not use them well,” he added. “We did not end up as champions but we played like champions. This match was expected to be the final and unlucky for us that only one of us could go and that was India. I am proud of my team and the way we played today,” Thapa added.

Thapa’s Indian counterpart Sajid Dar said his team emerged victorious due to team effort. “It is hard to single out a player. Right from the goalkeeper to our defenders to the midfielders to the strikers, everyone played their part. It was a team effort,” Dar was quoted as saying by the All India Football Federation.

India will take on Bangladesh, who registered a 6-0 victory over the Maldives in another semi-final match.