Bangladesh women make history, clinch maiden SAFF title
Bangladesh clinched their maiden SAFF Women's Championship title with a 3-1 victory over Nepal in an entertaining final at the Dasarath Rangasala in Kathmandu on Monday.
Krishna Rani Sarkar scored a brace after substitute forward Shamsunnahar Jr had given Bangladesh an early lead to propel Bangladesh to South Asian supremacy, breaking the hearts of the Nepalese who were playing their fifth final in the competition.
After taking a 2-0 lead in the first half on a rain-soaked pitch and in front of a capacity crowd, Bangladesh came under tremendous pressure from the hosts, who pulled one back in the 70th minute through a powerful diagonal attempt. However, Krishna, who scored the second goal for Bangladesh in the 42nd minute of the match following Shamsunnahar Jr's opener in the 14th minute, ensured Bangladesh's victory with another expert finish in the 77th minute, placing home past the Nepal keeper on a through-ball from Monika Chakma.
The victory crowned Bangladesh the champions in South Asian women's football for the first time in sixth edition, ending India's reign of five successive titles. Hosts Nepal, meanwhile, had to contend with the runners-up trophy for the fifth time.
Bangladesh skipper Sabina Khatun became the top scorer of the tournament with eight goals in the tournament. The only blemish in the campaign for Golam Rabbani Choton's charges was the goal they conceded in the final, having scored 23 in the tournament.
Although Bangladesh had won age-level tournaments in women's in South Asian football, this is the first time they won the title at senior level, that too by beating the two best teams of the region in India and Nepal for the first time.
Bangladesh had earlier made the final on one occasion in 2016, but eventually were beaten 3-1 by India in that final.