Nepal eyes for third straight victory in SAFF

Published On: December 29, 2016 08:10 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Dec 29: High-flying Nepal, which has almost booked its place in the semifinals of the Women's SAFF Championship, will take on Sri Lanka in its last group stage match on Friday. 

Nepal, which has two wins out of two, will eye third straight victory when it faces Sri Lanka at Kanchenjunga Stadium, as it will send the three times runner-up of SAFF Championship to the semifinals as Group A winner. However, a draw against Sri Lanka will be enough for Nepal to book its place in the last four. Nepal thrashed Bhutan 8-0 in the first match followed by a comprehensive 9-0 win over the Maldives.

Nepal's head cocah Kumar Thapa said that his team is not feeling any pressure but stated that the team needs to get the best result before moving to the next stage.“There is no pressure for us in any form. We have had two great matches and we will aim to finish the group stage on a similar note,” said head coach Thapa. 

The match between Nepal and Sri Lanka on Friday will be the third meeting between the two nations in the sub-continental tournament. Earlier, Nepal had defeated Sri Lanka 3-0 in the last four clash in 2012 while it overcame the island nation by the same score-line in the group stage match two years later. 

Sabitra Bhandari alone has contributed 11 goals for free-scoring Nepal, which has scored 17 goals in the last two matches. However, head coach Thapa is concerned about the team's goal scorers as he wants his other forwards to score as well. “Sabitra is enjoying clinical form but I want my other players also to score because it is very important for the team to have maximum goal scorers,” added head coach Thapa. 

Nepal has used 19 players from its 20-member squad in the last two matches and head coach Thapa hinted that young goalkeeper Anjana Rana Magar will be the 20th Nepali player to feature in the competition. He also said that he won't make big changes in the playing XI but stated that he will use substitutions early in the game in order to give more minutes to the benched players. 

Beside changing the goalkeeper, head coach Thapa is unlikely to make changes in defense, midfield and attack. 

In another match of Group A, second-placed Maldives will take on Bhutan which is at rock bottom. 

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