Dejected Nepali players walk off the ground to end of their SAff Women's Championship semifinal match against India in Silliguru, West Bangal, India on Monday. Photo Courtesy: ANFA
KATHMANDU, Jan 2: Nepal has failed to reach the SAFF Women's Championship final for the first time as it crashed out from the competition after losing to India 3-1 in the semifinal on Monday.
Earlier, Nepal had reached the final of all three editions and lost to India in all three occasions.
Kamala Devi Yumnam, Indumati and Sasmita Mallik scored one goal each for host India while Sabitra Bhandari netted a consolation goal for Nepal at Kanchenjunga Stadium, West Bengal.
After the match, Nepal's head coach Kumar Thapa said that not scoring goals despite playing well was the reason behind the defeat. However, he expressed satisfaction toward the performance of his players. "We played well but could not get the goals when needed. They kept tight mark on Sabitra and we had some chances but we just could not use them well,” said head coach Thapa, “We had very good chance to beat India as we played good game. I am happy with my girls' performance.”
He also pointed out that the referee's poor decision affected the outcome of the match. "We had three clear penalties denied and the first goal was offside. Overall, the quality of referee we saw is not what you expect in the match of such stature", added head coach Thapa.
Earlier in the match, Kamala Devi Yumnam gave lead to India just a minute before first half. The defending champion extended its lead in the 59th minute of the second half with a goal from Indumati. However, Nepal cut the deficit in the 74th minute with the help of Sabitra Bhandari's penalty goal. But the home team's Sasmita Mallik scored in the 84th minute to help India seal the 3-1 victory that sent it to the final of the sub-continental tournament for the fourth consecutive time.
Head coach Thapa who led national women's team for the first time in international competition said that there were lots of the positives to carry from the championship despite not achieving its target.
"We did not end up as the champions but we played like it. This match was expected to be the virtual final and we were unlucky as only one of us could reach the final and that was India,” said head coach Thapa.
In the meantime, India's head coach Sajid Dar praised Nepal's performance stating that it has improved a lot from their last meeting in the South Asian Games held last year. “Nepal has improved and hopefully we will see even more stronger Nepali team when we meet next time,” said Dar.
Nepal has poor record against South Asian rival India as it had faced seven defeats in eight matches while one match had ended in a draw. Nepal has also conceded 25 goals to India in those occasions and has scored just thrice.
Before reaching the final, Nepal pitted in Group A had maintained 100% win record in the group stage beating Bhutan 8-0 and the Maldives 9-0 followed by a 1-0 victory over Sri Lanka. Similarly, India overcame the challenge of Afghanistan 5-1 and played goalless draw against Bangladesh in Group B.
India will now face the winner among Bangladesh and the Maldives in the final that will played at Kanchenjunga Stadium, Siliguri on Wednesday.