Thursday, June 20

Nepal vs Bangladesh – The final that was ‘hit’ by Earthquake

Subas Humagain, Kathmandu

2015 April 24 – Nepal defeated India 1-0 in the semi-final at Dashrath Stadium on Friday and reached the final. In the final, they will face Bangladesh for the title. Competition – AFC U-14 Championship 2015 (South and Central Region)

2022 September 16 – Nepal entered the final by defeating India 1-0 in the semi-final at Dashrath Stadium on Friday. In the final, they will face Bangladesh for the title. Competition – SAFF Women’s Championship 2022

For the second time in 7 years, Nepal beat India at the Dashrath Stadium to book title clash against Bangladesh. In 2015, Nepal made it to the final by defeating India’s U-14 team 1-0 in the semi-finals. Nirmala Upadhyay scored the only goal for Nepal in that match. Nirmala’s goal in the opening minutes of the second half proved decisive. Currently, Nirmala is leading attack of Nepal Police Club. She was part of the initial selection but could not make the final cut.

In that match of 2015, Rekha Poudel led the attack for Nepal with goalscorer Nirmala. Rekha remained on the bench in yesterday’s semi-final win against India. Saru Limbu and Manjali Kumari Yonjan started for Nepal in that match 7 years ago. While Saru played the full 90 minutes yesterday, Manjali remained on the bench due to dengue. Defender Nisha Thokar, who made her debut against Sri Lanka in the group stage, was also the starting choice for the U-14 team 7 years ago.

SAFF Women's Championship
6 Sep 2022
- 5:30 pm
Bhutan Women's National Football Team
0 4
Nepal Women's National Football Team
SAFF Women's Championship
7 Sep 2022
- 1:00 pm
India Women's National Football Team
3 0
Pakistan Women's National Football Team
SAFF Women's Championship
7 Sep 2022
- 5:30 pm
Bangladesh Women's National Football Team
3 0
Maldives Women's National Football Team
SAFF Women's Championship
9 Sep 2022
- 5:30 pm
Sri Lanka Women's National Football Team
0 5
Bhutan Women's National Football Team
SAFF Women's Championship
10 Sep 2022
- 1:00 pm
Pakistan Women's National Football Team
0 6
Bangladesh Women's National Football Team
SAFF Women's Championship
10 Sep 2022
- 5:30 pm
Maldives Women's National Football Team
0 9
India Women's National Football Team
SAFF Women's Championship
12 Sep 2022
- 5:30 pm
Nepal Women's National Football Team
6 0
Sri Lanka Women's National Football Team
SAFF Women's Championship
13 Sep 2022
- 1:00 pm
Maldives Women's National Football Team
0 7
Pakistan Women's National Football Team
SAFF Women's Championship
13 Sep 2022
- 5:30 pm
India Women's National Football Team
0 3
Bangladesh Women's National Football Team
Nepal U-14 team in 2015.

Puja Rana, the then skipper of the U-14 team, was supposed to start at right back for senior team in the ongoing SAFF Championship. But a horror injury during the training camp meant she was left out of the team . After sustaining leg fracture a month ago, she is currently sitting at home with a plastered leg and watching the game on TV. She will be out of the field for few months.

Puja, who has been playing in the right back role for the senior team started both the friendly matches against Bangladesh at the Dashrath Stadium last year. She was all set to fulfill that responsibility in SAFF too, but injury forced her to take a break.

Puja Rana during friendly against Bangladesh.

After reaching the final, Puja was reminicining the moment at the stadium 7 years ago. “I was thinking about the old days when we won the game yesterday. At that time, I was happy when we beat India and I am very happy that the team won this time too. It is painful to stay out of the field due to injury,” said Pooja.

ANFA has promised to bear entire medical expenses of her treatment. She also wished for victory against Bangladesh in the final. “During U-14, the match was postponed due to an earthquake. The final, which should have been held at the stadium, took place in Lagankhel after 7/8 months. If it had happened then, the result would have been better, later we lost to Bangladesh. This time the final will be held in the Dashrath stadium and the team will win. My best wishes is with the team,” said Pooja.

The Nepali team, which won the semi-final against India on Friday, 24th of April 2015, did not get to play the final which was supposed to be on Saturday. The massive 7.91 magnitude earthquake hit when Iran and India were preparing for the third place match of the AFC U-14 Girls Regional Championship 2015 (South and Central). Both Iran and India, were in the dressing room preparing for the warm-up session. After the earthquake hit, the players of both teams sat in the middle of the field.

India U-14 team waiting in the stadium after earthquake in 2015.

The earthquake occurred when the Nepali and Bangladeshi team were preparing to leave the hotel to play the final. The third place match was canceled and the final was postponed. The final was then played in December 2015, which Bangladesh won 1-0. As the Dashrath Stadium was not in use, the final was held at the Army ground in Lagankhel.

At that time, Kishor KC was the head coach of Nepali team. Bangladeshi team was led by Golam Robbani Choton, who is currently leading the senior team too. The then Assistant coach Mahbubur Rahman Litu is also with him. 8 members of the U-14 team that played the final against Nepal are now in the senior team. Forward Krishna Rani, who was MVP in historic win over India in the group stage this week, was the captain of the U-14 team back then.

Bangladesh U-14 team in 2015.

After losing the final 1-0 in 2015, Nepal has not been able to get a good result against Bangladesh in the age group since then. After losing 1-0 in the U-18 final in 2018, Nepal managed to play a goalless draw in the U-19 in 2021. The Nepalese team lost 2-1 in the U-18 tournament held in 2022. Similarly, in the U-15 age group SAFF tournament, Nepal has lost all the matches so far. Nepal lost 6-0 in 2017, 3-0 in 2018 and 2-1 in 2019.

In the senior team, Nepal has not lost against Bangladesh so far. So far, when the two teams played 7 games in senior football, Nepal got 5 wins and 2 draws. Nepal, who won the first match 2-1 in the two friendly matches completed last year, was held to a goalless draw in the second match. In the SAFF Championship, Nepal has won all three matches played till date.

Coach Choton with U-14 team in 2015.

Coach Choton in the pre tournament press conference had claimed that his team would reach the finals because they had been playing together for a long time. He said that since they have played together since the age group, it has helped in the development of the team. As Choton said, Bangladesh has made a place in the finals with string of excellent performance this time. The team scored 20 goals in 4 matches while securing a place in the finals without conceding any goals throughout the tournament. Captain Sabina Khatun is leading goalscoring charts with 8 goals.

Looking at the performance, Bangladesh is the best team in the tournament. Even the opposing coaches has accepted this. But Bangladesh is yet to face the home team. Both Nepal and Bangladesh have won all the matches of the tournament without conceding.

History is in Nepal’s favor, while Bangladesh is eager to change that history. Nepali team is aiming to become SAFF champion for the first time in between thousands of domestic supporters. Nepal has got an opportunity to play the final which was not played in the stadium 7 years ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

P