Sri Lanka displayed a brave rear-guard effort against the free scoring Nepal but an own goal minutes before full time broke their resolve as they went down 1-0 in their final group game in the 4th SAFF Women’s Championship in Siliguri, India.
Sri Lanka Women’s captain Erandi Liyanage and Praveena Perera scored 2nd half goals as Sri Lanka…
Sri Lanka suffered a surprise and a heavy 5-2 loss to Maldives in the first game which meant they had to win both their next two games. They won 2-0 against Bhutan with 2nd half goals coming from skipper Erandi Liyanage and Praveena Perera and had to face favourites Nepal who had thumped Bhutan and Maldives 8-0 & 9-0 respectively.
Sri Lanka marked Nepal’s ace striker Sabitra Bhandari, who had scored 11 goals in two games, as they frustrated the Nepalese.
Nepal on the other hand played a rather sedate game, as they had already qualified for the semi-finals, which bored well with the opposition. Sri Lanka who relied on counter attacks did get a few chances but were unable to finish as they went into half time.
Half time – Sri Lanka 0 – 0 Nepal
Nepal got off to a fast start in the 2nd half as they pressed for a goal. Sabitra tried to find Sharmila with a cross inside the box in the 53rd minute but Sharmila could not get on the end of it.
Maldives and Nepal decimated their opponents on the opening day of the 4th SAFF Women’s Championship…
A few other chances were either missed or saved by the Sri Lanka goalkeeper Ayomi Shanika. Shanika had a very good game for the Islanders making brilliant saves.
Unfortunately for Sri Lanka with three minutes left Nepal took the lead through an own goal from Rushani Gunawardena.
Full time – Sri Lanka 0 – 1 Nepal
A proud yet disappointed Head Coach of Sri Lanka Ratnam Jusmin added;
“Nepal is a good team. Our strategy was to mark four key players and it worked out. We played defensive game and relied on counter moves. That also helped us out. We will now await the match between Bhutan and Maldives,” he added.
He further added that first match against Maldives was a turning point in the competition.
“The decisions made by the referee in the first match weren’t justified. That was a turning point for us in the competition,” he added.
Nepal women’s team Head Coach Kumar Thapa was in praise of his opposite number;
“This is football. Every opponent is tough in all aspects. Sri Lanka played a clever game. They marked our key players but we managed to score the match winning goal. I respect Sri Lanka coach for his strategy. This is football. I knew this would happen. We tried to play with other options but we couldn’t bear fruit,” said Thapa.
When asked if it was difficult to play three matches in six days, Thapa said, “This isn’t the matter for us. I am glad that we played two matches in day time. Our semifinal match is also in day time, which I believe will help us.”