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Nepal edge Bangladesh on penalties to claim trophy

Nepali women football team edged hosts Bangladesh 4-2 in penalty shootout in their second and final international friendly match at the BSSSMK Stadium in Kamalpur, Dhaka, on Saturday to claim the FIFA International Women’s Football Series 1-0.

The match was decided directly from the spot after the regulation period finished in a goalless deadlock. The first match of the series played on Thursday had finished in a 1-1 stalemate, courtesy of a stoppage time goal by Sabitra Bhandari.

Unlike the practice in international football friendlies, which are most often not decided through spot kick in case of deadlock, the match was pushed into penalties to determine the winners and distribute the trophy and medals.

“It was a good experience for us. Playing at their home turf, Bangladesh proved to be a strong side,” said Nepal’s coach Ananta Thapa after the game. Thapa’s side were competing in the tournament to fine-tune the upcoming Asian Games to be held in China in September and October. “We put up an improved show in the second game and we tried many players to prepare them for the Asian Games,” the coach added. “We will be returning home with a lot of experience.”

Substitute goalkeeper Anjana Rana Magar denied two spot kicks from the home team to amend her mistake after the third penalty taken by herself failed to hit the target. She came in as a replacement for captain and goalie Anjila Tumbapo Subba in the 90th minute.

Nepal’s star forward Sabitra Bhandari, Hira Kumari Bhujel, Deepa Shahi and Anita KC converted their penalties from the spot.

Shamsunnahar converted her first penalty from the spot for Bangladesh before Sheuli Azim was denied by goalie Rana Magar. The custodian dived to her right to give a 2-1 lead to Nepal. But Rana Magar stepped up to take the third penalty for the visiting side and ended up hitting the pole.

She then made a far stretch dive to the left side to deny Maria Manda’s strike to maintain Nepal’s one goal cushion before Shahi and KC converted fourth and fifth strikes from the spot to give Nepal victory.

Nepal’s coach Thapa had made three changes in the starting lineup in comparison to the first game. He started with Anita KC, Rashmi Kumar Ghising and Anita Basnet as replacements of Amisha Karki, Rashmi Kumari Ghising and Anita Basnet.

But Bangladesh, who had defeated Nepal 3-1 in the women’s SAFF final in September last year, put Nepal under pressure. The home team’s best chance came as early as in the fourth minute when captain Sabina Khatun’s 30-yard strike in a short free kick pass rebounded off the bar.

Both sides struggled to create threatening chances in the remaining period of the game.

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