Kathmandu, December 29, 2016:Â Nepal has inched closer to the semifinal of the ongoing Womenâ€™s SAFF Championship after producing 9-0 victory over Maldives in its second group stage match on Wednesday. Nepal is now on top of group A with six points and a draw against Sri Lanka in the last group stage match will be enough to book the place in last four.
Sabitra Bhandari who had scored double hat-trick against Bhutan in the opening match displayed another heroic performance as she scored five goals in Kanchenjunga Stadium. Remaining four goals came from Manjali Kumari Yonjan, Sapana Lama, Hira Kumari Bhujel and Nirmala BK.
Nepalâ€™s head coach Kumar Thapa expressed his delight towards big margin win however he stated that his team has still feet on the ground despite flying start in the championship. â€œThis 9-0 win is a convincing one but we are not going over the moon just yet. We have our feet on the ground and we know what we are yet to face,â€ said head coach Thapa.
However he said that his team landed in Siliguri with target of wining the championship and players are playing accordingly. Â â€œWe came with a target to win the tournament and we are paving our way to that,â€ added head coach Thapa.
Nepal took the lead with Sabitraâ€™s opening goal in the 12th minute and she scored her personal second goal of the match in 28th minute to make 2-0. To complete the first half hat-trick Sabitra notched another goal in the 39th minute. Nepal who had edged past Bhutan 8-0 in the first match was in mood to produce similar big margin victory over tiny island South Asian nation. It was Sabitra who opened second half scoring for Nepal with netting her 4th goal of the match in 50th minute. Clinical Sabitra who has been playing as first choice striker for Nepal in the absence of Anu Lama scored another in 63rd minute and made Nepalâ€™s score-line 6-0. Winger Manjali Kumari Yonjan and defender Hira Kumari Bhujel scored Nepalâ€™s 7th and 8th goal in 71st and 74th minute respectively. Second half substitute Nirmala BK scoring in the stoppage time saw Nepal sealing big margin win of 9-0 over Maldives.
Head Coach Thapa who made two changes in his playing XI against Maldives hinted that he will give chance to other players who are yet to feature, in the match against Sri Lanka on Friday. Â â€œWe have one more match with us and I have used all my players bar a goalie. So I know what my squad depth is and we need to make use of one extra match we have in comparison to our semi final opponent,â€ ended head coach Thapa.
Making the changes Thapa brought goalkeeper Namita Dali and defender Anchali Waiwa for Anjila Tumbapo and Man Maya Limbu respectively.
In another match of the group A, Sri Lanka overcame Bhutan 2-0. Despite having equal three points from two matches, Maldives is in second position and Sri Lanka is in third in the group on the basis of goal difference.