Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Nepal enters semi-finals after beating Maldives with 9 goals at Saff Womens Championship

Nepal’s Sabitra Bhandari celebrates after scoring against Maldives during the Saff Women’s Championship at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri on Wednesday. photo courtesy: hamrokhelkud.com

Striker Sabitra Bhandari continued her fine form scoring five goals as Nepal crushed Maldives 9-0 to enter the semi-finals of the fourth Saff Women’s Championship in Siliguri, India on Wednesday.

The second consecutive victory saw Nepal stay at the top of Group ‘A’ with six points from two matches and will play Sri Lanka in their final league stage match on Friday. Sri Lanka defeated Bhutan 2-0 in another match to remain in hunt for the semi-finals. 

Bhandari had also struck five goals in Nepal’s 8-0 rout of Bhutan on Monday and she  once again opened the floodgates on Wednesday in the 12th minute chipping over Maldives custodian Aishath Abdul Razzaq. One minute later, Bhandari received a cross from Anita Basnet inside the box but her shot was saved by Razzaq.

The lead doubled in the 28th minute, after Bhandari was fed by Dipa Rai from the centre and the forward made a good run with the ball before firing from the right. Bhandari completed her second hat-trick of the tournament in the 39th minute with a header in a rebound after Razzaq made a poor clearance of a shot from Basnet.

In a whirlwind two minutes of the second half, Bhandari notched up her 10th goal of the tournament cashing in on a cross from Rai in the 50th minute and Manjali Yonjan made it 5-0 scoring in a pass from Basnet in the 52nd. 

The trouble continued for Maldives after Bhandari struck her fifth in the 63rd minute and Sapana Lama scored the team’s seventh in the 71st minute.

Three minutes later, Hira Kumari Bhujel struck from 25 yards and Nirmala BK sealed the rout with a 93rd minute strike on a cross from skipper Renuka Nagarkote. 

The victory also meant Nepal continued their winning streak against Maldives having beaten them thrice in the past. Nepal had crushed Maldives 6-0 in the first Saff Championship in 2010 and 5-0 in the second edition held in Sri Lanka. In the previous meeting between the two teams in the 12th South Asian Games in India, Nepal had prevailed 2-0.