Goalkeepers Namita Dali (L), Anjana Rana Magar(C) and Anjali Tumbapo Subba (R) during a training session in Silliguri, West Bangal, India on Sunday. Photo Courtesy: ANFA
KATHMANDU, Dec 25: Nepali girls who left India eying SAFF Women's Championship title will take on Bhutan in its opening match on Monday. The group A clash between two countries, which is also the curtain raiser of the tournament is scheduled to take place at Kanchanjunga Stadium in Siliguri.
Nepal's head coach Kumar Thapa said that the team is ready to continue the winning streak against Bhutan when his team meets fellow South Asian nation for the second time in the championship history. However, Thapa is against taking Bhutanese team lightly.
“We have got good record against Bhutan but I am not in condition to take them lightly in the competition. They also have come with good preparation under Korean coach so the match against them will be tricky,” said Thapa. Earlier Nepal had registered comprehensive 8-0 win over Bhutan in the third edition of the championship held in Pakistan in 2014.
Four players of the current squad including Man Maya Limbu, Dipa Adhikari, Krishna Khatri and Anchali Waiwa were in the Nepali team which edged past Bhutan.
In the meantime, head coach Thapa also expressed confidence over the quality of the players. “I know we have talented players in my squad so I am very positive towards the match. Beating Malaysia's women team during the preparation has boosted the confidence of my players,” said Thapa. “My team is in good momentum and we just need to continue that while playing against Bhutan. If we replicate our winning attitude that we had shown against Malaysia, I am sure we will deliver positive result.”
Head Coach Thapa is likely to field the same playing XI that was fielded against Malaysia, in the opening match against Bhutan. Thapa hinted that he will use 4-2-3-1 playing formation which has been Nepali team's favorite formation since his appointment as head coach, on Monday.
Thapa is likely to start Sabitra Bhandari as lone central forward while Anita Basnet, Manjali Kumari Yonjan and Sharmila Thapa are probable players to play behind Sabitra. Similarly, Captain Renuka Nagarkotee and Dipa Rai are likely to be played in central midfield. Thapa is set to start Geeta Rana, Hira Kumari Bhujel, Manamaya Limbu and Poonam Jargha Magar at back and Anjila Tumbapo Subba at goalkeeping.