As the dawn approaches on Monday evening, Nepal women’s national team will square off against Bangladesh in the SAFF Women’s Championship final for regional supremacy. The match will kick off at 5 PM at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu.
Nepal or Bangladesh, whoever wins will be getting hands on their first SAFF Women’s Championship title. Coming to the sixth edition, India have managed to win all five previous iterations of the tournament. Nepal will be playing their fifth final in tournament history while it will be Bangladesh’s second final in the tournament.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference ahead of the final, Nepal and Bangladesh head coaches have expressed their confidence in their teams to win the title. “A new champion will be crowned this time. Everyone knows this and we don't want to miss that opportunity,” Nepal head coach Kumar Thapa said at the pre-match conference. "We don't want to make the fans sad after ninety minutes. The SAFF trophy has in Nepal and we will not let this trophy go out. We want to win this trophy and keep it as champions for two years.” Thapa wants to compensate for Nepal's semifinal loss in 2016 in his previous stint.
Bangladesh head coach Golam Robbani Choton is also confident in his side. Choton said that his team is ready to play the final. “Our players are ready to play the final. We are mentally and physically ready”, Choton said in the pre-match conference. Choton, who has managed the age-level sides and the women’s national team of Bangladesh, is known as the pioneer of women’s football in Bangladesh. He has won five trophies with age-level teams but is yet to win a title with the senior side. He will have an opportunity to tick a senior trophy off his list as his side takes on Nepal tomorrow.
The tournament so far:
Nepal and Bangladesh are both yet to concede a goal in the tournament. Bangladesh have scored 20 goals in the tournament. Bangladesh skipper Sabina Khatun has amassed eight goals so far. Nepal have managed to score ten goals, having played one game less in the tournament.
Nepal 4-0 Bhutan
Nepal 5-0 Sri Lanka
Nepal 1-0 India
Bangladesh 3-0 Bhutan
Bangladesh 6-0 Pakistan
Bangladesh 3-0 India
Bangladesh 8-0 Bhutan
Bangladesh skipper Sabina Khatun has amassed eight goals in the tournament so far. But she contributes more than just her goals. She is the one who keeps the Bangladesh midfield and the forward line glued together. She drops deep, creates chances for her teammates, and gets into the box to score goals. Having played all five previous editions of the tournament as well, her experience will be very important for Bangladesh as they look to win their first regional title.
History on Nepal’s side:
Before this tournament, Bangladesh were winless against Nepal and India in all of the previous five editions. Bangladesh’s win against India in their final group stage match showcased the improvement in the side in recent years. Having come past the winless voodoo against India, Bangladesh will aim to register their first win against Nepal in the tournament and take the title away from the hosts.
Nepal and Bangladesh have faced each other three times in the previous five editions. Nepal have been victorious on all three occasions. The most recent meetings between the sides came in a friendly series last year where one match ended in a draw while Nepal won the other match. Before that, Nepal defeated Bangladesh 3-0 in the 2019 SAFF Women’s Championship edition.
Nepal striker Sabitra Bhandari has missed the last two matches after being infected with Dengue. Manjali Kumari Yonjan was also unavailable for selection due to the same issue. Their recovery process is going well, according to coach Thapa. Sabitra, if deemed fit, is expected to start. Preeti Rai is also expected to start after a stellar performance in her first start against India in the semifinal.
Predicted Nepal XI: Anjila Tumbapo Subba © (GK), Punam Jargha Magar, Gita Rana, Hira Kumari Bhujel, Amrita Jaishi, Dipa Shahi, Amisha Karki/Anita KC, Anita Basnet, Saru Limbu, Preeti Rai, Sabitra Bhandari/Rashmi Kumari Ghising
Bangladesh were forced to take off Jahan Shopna after she suffered an injury in the first half against Bhutan. She trained yesterday, according to coach Choton and her recovery process will decide if she will be fit to play. All other players are fit and available for selection.
Predicted Bangladesh XI: Rupna Chakma (GK), Sheuli Azim, Shamsunnahar, M. Akhi Khatun, Masura Parvin, Monika Chakma, Maria Manda, Sabina Khatun ©, Srimoti Krishnarani Sarkar, Jahan Shopna/Ritu Chakma, Sanjida Akhter
Ticketing & Broadcasting:
Tickets for the match and the entirety of the SAFF Women's Championship can be bought from Paywell. AP1 Television & Eleven Sports will broadcast the tournament live.
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