KATHMANDU: Nepal women’s national football team faced defeat at the hands of Uzbekistan 3-2 in the final of Nadezhda Cup played at the Central Stadium in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan, on Thursday.
With this defeat, spirited Nepali women’s football team wait for maiden international glory continued even though they came agonisingly close to lifting the coveted trophy against the tournament favourites today.
Eventually, Nepal had to settle with the runner-up title.
Uzbekistan scored the first goal in the 39th minute of the first half and hit two more goals in 55th and 64th minutes respectively to take an inaccessible 3-0 lead against the Himalayan nation.
Nepal’s prolific striker Sabitra Bhandari led the fight-back with two goals but to no avail.
Bhandari scored a brace in today’s final but could not take the team home in the crucial fixture. Striker Bhandari drilled home after a sublime pass from midfielder Anita Basnet in the 67th minute before scoring the second goal in the dying minutes from a penalty spot.
Bhandari, a joint all-time top scorer with Anu Lama (35 goals) in international matches for Nepal, bagged the highest scorer’s award with 7 goals in the tournament.
Earlier, she had notched four goals against the hosts Kyrgyzstan Republic before drilling a solitary goal in a must game against Tajikistan.
Nepal had thrashed the hosts Kyrgyzstan 8-2, lost to the ultimate champions Uzbekistan 2-0 before securing a narrow 1-0 victory over Tajikistan en-route final of the tournament.
Nepal participated in the event as part of preparation for the upcoming South Asian Games, (SAG) slated for December 1-10 in Kathmandu and Pokhara.