Photo Courtesy: NSJF Players of Nepal (blue) and Malaysia in action during their friendly match at the at the Likas Stadium in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on Monday.
KATHMANDU, May 22: Nepali national women's football team held Malaysia to a 1-1 draw in a friendly match on Monday.
Sabitra Bhandari scored in the 64th minute to help the visiting side Nepal earn a draw against host Malaysia at Likas Stadium of Kota Kinabalu. Two minutes earlier, Malaysia had taken the lead with Dadree Rofinus' goal. Nepali team which is in Malaysia tour for two friendly matches will now face the home team on Wednesday in the second friendly match.
Nepal ranked 95th in FIFA rankings had defeated the 79th-ranked Malaysia 1-0 in a friendly match played at ANFA Complex at the end of last year.
Sabitra struck an equalizer from close range collecting the ball that was dropped by Malaysian goalkeeper Nurul Azurin Mazlan while attempting to catch it following Dipa Rai's long-range shot.
Earlier, Nepal had conceded the goal due to poor concentration by its goalkeeper. Nepali goalie Anjila Subaa failed to grab a long ball charged by Jaciah Jumilis which unmarked Dadree Rofinus collected and tapped in from close range.
After the match, Nepal's head coach Kumar Thapa expressed his satisfaction over the result. “I am quite happy with the result because we came from a goal behind,” said head coach Thapa.
He also said that his players created enough chances adding that his players took time to adjust with the local temperature. “It's not that we could not create chances. In fact, we were close to scoring thrice in the first half,” said Thapa, “The first 20 minutes was not good for us as we struggled to adjust with the local hot climatic condition.”
Meanwhile, Thapa handed the captain's armband to midfielder Sajana Rana in the match, instead of Renuka Nagarkote who had led the team in SAFF Women's Championship 2016 held in India.
Thapa hinted that he will play the same team in the second and final friendly to be played on Wednesday. Thapa also expressed his optimism of players performing better in the next match adding that his players are more confident now after scoring in the Malaysian stadium.
“I am sure we will do well in the second match because the players will get used to the weather by then and their confidence has also grown by scoring an away goal,” concluded Thapa.