Biratnagar, March 15
Nepal head coach Hari Khadka was confident of beating Bangladesh and finishing as Group A winners when the two teams meet in the final league round match of the SAFF Women’s Championship here at the Sahid Rangashala on Saturday.
Nepal and Bangladesh will play against each other with nothing at stake but the group winners and runners-up finish. Both the teams have already advanced to the semi-finals from Group A at the expense of Bhutan, who failed to score a single goal in their two matches and conceded five goals.
Nepal defeated Bhutan 3-0 in the opening match on Tuesday, while Bangladesh registered a 2-0 victory yesterday. Bhutan have not been able to win a single match in the history of the championship with a 1-1 draw against Sri Lanka in Bangladesh in 2010 being their best result till date. But the Bhutanese put up improved performance in the fifth
edition and were able to stop Nepal to three goals unlike their previous two outings when they conceded eight goals each.
Nepal coach Khadka was not much concerned about the less number of goals scored by his goals in the opening match and he showed confidence in finishing as group winners with a victory over Bangladesh. “We do not need to worry about the scoreline as we are capable of beating Bangladesh,” said Khadka, former national team skipper. “We watched their match against Bhutan and are well aware of their strengths and weaknesses,” added Khadka.
Asked about his strategy against Bangladesh, Khadka said the team would play attacking football for victory. “We have planned to play all-out football and attack the opponents. Our strong part is forward line and we will use that in the match against Bangladesh,” he added. “Bangladesh have three key players who can switch sides and penetrate. We have prepared plans to stop them and if we succeed in our strategy, there will be no problem in beating Bangladesh,” said the coach.
Khadka described India as the all-time favourite team and Nepal and Bangladesh as strong contenders. “India are all-time favourite team, while Nepal and Bangladesh have established themselves as strong sides in recent years,” said Khadka.
Skipper Niru Thapa said the team was prepared to face Bangladesh. “We know that we will have to increase our pace against Bangladesh and put up an improved performance than Bhutan,” said Thapa. “We have strong defense and forward line and we need to perform to our potential without getting nervous,” she added. “The players seemed a little bit selfish against Bhutan but we will play as a team in our next match,” said the skipper.
Nepal and Bangladesh have played five matches so far and the home side have upper hand with four wins and a draw. In the last encounter, the two sides played a 1-1 draw in the Olympic Qualifiers four months ago in Myanmar.
Bangladesh coach Golam Robbani Choten said the match against Nepal would be tough. “We know Nepal are technically strong side and that the match against home team will be an easy one for us,” he said after his team’s victory over Bhutan. “We are looking forward to a competitive match,” he added.
A version of this article appears in print on March 16, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.