Sunday, 26 March, 2023

Bangladesh on verge of making another SAFF history

Hosts face Nepal in SAFF U-20 Women’s final today

  • Sports Correspondent
  • 9 February, 2023 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Bangladesh on verge of making another SAFF history
Captains and coaches of Bangladesh women’s national football team and Nepal women’s national football team pose for a photo with the trophy of SAFF U-20 Women’s Championship 2023 at the BFF house in Motijheel on Wednesday. – BFF PHOTO

Five months after the historic SAFF Women’s Championship campaign in Nepal, Bangladesh women’s booters are again on the verge of creating another history in SAFF U-20 Women’s Championship 2023 on home soil.

Bangladesh women’s national football team made history by clinching SAFF Women’s Championship title beating Nepal women’s national team by 3-1 goals in the final in Kathmandu last September.  

The success story started before 9-month when Bangladesh U-19 women’s national team clinched the title of SAFF U-19 Women’s Championship defeating the defending champions India U-19 women’s national team by a 1-0 goal in the final in Dhaka in December 2021.

Bangladesh also beat Nepal by a 1-0 goal in the final of the first edition of this age-level competition which was named SAFF U-18 Women’s Championship in 2018 in Thimphu, Bhutan.

Bangladesh U-20 women’s national team again have the chance to repeat history when they face Nepal U-20 women’s national team in the final at the U-20s level today at the Bir Shrestha Shaheed Sepoy Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur. The match kicks off at 06:00pm (BST).

Bangladesh U-20s, who maintained an unbeaten run and bagged the highest seven points on their way to the final, look confident to repeat the history of SAFF Women’s Championship against the same opponents Nepal.

“It will be a very tough match against Nepal. We know this team, we have been playing with this team in several age-level competitions,” Bangladesh head coach Golam Rabbani Choton said in a pre-final presser at the BFF house in Motijheel on Wednesday. 

“Some of their members also played in their senior team during SAFF Women’s Championship. So, it will be tough. But we are also prepared for the final. We have already beat them in our first game. So, we know the way,” the coach added.

Bangladesh beat Nepal by 3-1 goals and Bhutan by 5-0 goals while playing a goalless draw (1-1) with India in their group matches.

“We beat Nepal and Nepal beat India. Both Nepals are not the same. We have observed their games. Though there were several mistakes in India’s game plan, we have learnt Nepal’s strengths and weaknesses. Tomorrow (Thursday) we will play to win, play to grab the title,” Choton further added.

The U-20s captain Shamsunnahar Jr, who was the opener against Nepal in SAFF Women’s Championship, felt very confident against Nepal ahead of the final.

“We believe we will be able to keep the title at home. Every player will give their best in the final. I have no personal expectations. I will want to contribute to the team’s victory,” the midfielder added, who scored a hat-trick in the last group match against Bhutan.

Bangladesh have a bad memory in the three-team SAFF U-15 Women’s Championship held in Kamalapur last November.

The U-15 national women’s team needed a win against Nepal U-15 women’s national team in the last match of this double-leg age-level competition, but the match was tied 1-1 and the title went to Nepal.

Before that unofficial final, Nepal had nine points and Bangladesh six points, which means Bangladesh needed a win against Nepal in their last match (as per the bylaws) while Nepal just needed a draw.

According to the bylaws, if Bangladesh were able to beat Nepal, both teams would have the same 9-point each, but the hosts would be declared as champions by virtue of goal difference. Bangladesh’s goal difference is now (+16) while Nepal’s goal difference is (+9).

However, the touring side Nepal U-20s, who eliminated India by 3-1 goals and bagged six points to reach the final, are determined to take revenge against Bangladesh and want to take the title back to their home.

Nepal returned to the winning track with a 4-0 goal win over Bhutan in their second match after their disappointing start against the hosts Bangladesh.

“The match will be fifty/fifty. We know Bangladesh are a strong side, but we are well aware of their weaknesses. We will take revenge, we will win the title,” Nepal head coach Yam Prasad Gorung said.

“We worked hard to reach the final. Each player of our team did their best. So, we deserve the title. We are confident that we will take the title back to our home,” Nepal captain Preeti Rai said.