Bangladesh’s dream came true as the women’s football team emerged as the new champions in the seven-nation SAFF Women’s Championship, living up to their promise to keep their all-win record beating four-time finalists and hosts Nepal for the first time in the final at the Dasharath Stadium (Rangasala) in Kathmandu Monday evening.
This is the first time that the South Asian championship has been won by any country other than India, in the 6th edition of the tournament.
The opening goal came in the 14th minute, as substitute Shamsunnahar smartly flicked home a finish to meet a cross from the right.
Nepal were mostly restricted to long shots from outside the box, but a clever free kick had to be saved by goalkeeper Rupna Chakma on the stretch, and the ensuing corner saw the teams almost level, with a goalmouth melee ending with Nepal hitting the post.
The hosts were made to pay in the 42nd minute, as captain Sabina showed great vision to release Krishna Rani Sarkar, who unleashed an unstoppable finish into the roof of the net that gave the Nepal keeper no chance.
Shamsunnahar replaced regular striker Shopna minutes before scoring, who had to go off with an injury.
Nepal came back strong in the second half, and got rewarded for their pressure in the 70th minute, as Anita Basnet reduced the margin with a driving shot from the right of the box. Incidentally it was the first and only goal Bangladesh would concede in the meet.
Bangladesh restored their lead through Krishna Rani Sarkar just 6 minutes later, latching on to a through ball and finishing assuredly to ensure Bangladesh wouldn’t be disappointed.
There were some nervous moments before the final whistle but when it came, the Bangladesh girls threw themselves on the field in triumph, and no one can begrudge them this success, after their steady progress in the women’s game through the age groups – many of this team have been part of that steady upward graph since the middle of the last decade.
Including the final, Bangladesh won all five of their matches in the 6th SAFF Women’s Championship, scoring 23 goals in the process, and conceding just one. It was the first defeat for Himalayan nation Nepal in the ongoing meet after winning all three of their previous matches.
Bangladesh captain Sabina Khatun ended as the highest goalscorer in the tournament.