Nepal make it to second round
Kathmandu, November 13
Nepal earned berth in the second round of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games following their 1-1 draw with Bangladesh in the Group C match of the AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Thuwanna Football Stadium in Yangon today.
With their third straight draw, Nepal accumulated three points and finished third in the group. They qualified for the second round as one of the two best third teams among the 17 participating nations. This is the first time Nepal women’s team took part in the Olympic Qualifiers.
As per the tournament rules, top two teams from four groups and two best third placed sides earned berths in the second round. Myanmar and India advanced to the second round from Group C. Hosts Myanmar topped the pool with seven points after they beat India 2-1 in the day’s another match. India finished second with four points. Nepal had earlier played 1-1 draws with both India and Myanmar
On Tuesday, Nepal took the lead for the third straight match. Neeru Thapa opened the scoring for Nepal in the 17th minute of the match. At a time when Nepal were looking forward to their maiden victory in the tournament, Akhi Khatun levelled the scores in the injury time to earn her team’s first point.
Nepal coach Hari Khadka said the team’s mission was accomplished with the efforts of all involved in the tournament. “We had come to Myanmar with the aim of earning a berth in the second round and we did that with collective effort,” said Khadka, the former national men’s team skipper. Khadka said the qualification was just a first step towards success of the women’s team. “If we give priority to women’s football, the players are capable of getting big results,” he added. “I think it’s high time to invest in women’s football. The team will have enough time to prepare for the second round but before that the team will focus on the SAFF Championship to be held on home soil in December,” said Khadka.
Nepal and nine other teams who qualified from the first round will join Vietnam and Uzbekistan — who had received byes as sixth and seventh ranked teams in FIFA Ranking — in 12-team second round which will be held in April next year in Thailand.
Chinese Taipei and the Philippines from Group A, Iran and Hong Kong from Group B and Jordan and Indonesia from Group D qualified for second round. The 12 teams will be divided into three groups of four teams. The winners of all the groups will make it to the third round where they will join Australia, North Korea, China, South Korea and Thailand — who were directly drawn in third round as the top five teams in FIFA Ranking.
The eight teams will be divided into two groups with top two from each pool making it to the final round. Out of the four teams in the final round, top two will earn berths in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Japan have already qualified for the finals as the hosts on the 2020 Olympic Games.