Women’s SAFF Championship_Sabitra Bhandari

Sabitra Bhandari of Nepal controls the ball after beating her Bhutanese opponent during their Group A match of the fourth Women’s SAFF Championship at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri, India on Monday, December 26, 2016. Photo courtesy: ANFA

Kathmandu, December 26

Sabitra Bhandari netted five goals and set two others as Nepal thrashed Bhutan 8-0 in their opening match of the fourth Women’s SAFF Championship at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri, India today.

Sharmila Thapa scored a brace, while Krishna Khatri netted one in Nepal’s huge victory. Bhandari opened the scoring in the fifth minute and she combined with skipper Renuka Nagarkote in setting it for Thapa four minutes later.

Bhandari scored her second goal in the 23rd minute and played her part in setting the second goal for Thapa three minutes later. Bhandari completed her hat-trick in the 35th minute through a header as Nepal went into the break with a 5-0 lead over hapless Bhutan. Bhandari scored two more goals in the span of five minutes to make it 7-0. She found the nets in the 72nd and 77th minutes to score her fourth and fifth goals of the match. Substitute Khatri then completed the rout with the team’s eighth goal in the 90th minute following a pass from Dipa Adhikari.

Nepal head coach Kumar Thapa was a relieved man after opening the campaign with a victory in his first assignment. “I am happy with the win and the margin was more than what I had expected,” said Thapa, who tasted the first victory as the women’s national team coach in the friendly match against Malaysia at the ANFA Complex on December 17.

Thapa said Bhutan was not a bad team but things did not go their way. “Our forwards were good and we got the deserving result. This match will be a great morale booster for the players in upcoming matches. This was more of a testing match for us and we got to check the ground status well. We used three substitutes and all of them performed as per the plan,” Thapa added.

Nepal will play against the Maldives in the second match of the group that also includes Sri Lanka. Defending champions India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are in Group B.