Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com
Bangladesh clinched the four-nation SAFF Under-20 Women’s Championship title with a 3-0 win over Nepal in the final at the Birshrestha Shaheed Sepahi Mohammad Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur on Thursday.
The hosts went to halftime with a 2-0 lead, with forward Shaheda Akter Ripa and midfielder Shamsunnahar Jr scoring one goal each before defender Unnoti Khatun put the final nail in Nepal’s coffin in the second half of the game.
Golam Rabbani Choton’s charges played a pressing game from the beginning to earn an early lead, while Nepal foiled every Bangladesh attempt before Ripa broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute by putting the ball in the far corner of the net with a right-footed curler from outside the box.
Captain Shamsunnahar doubled Bangladesh’s lead in the first minute of stoppage time following a small through-pass from forward Aklima Khatun after Nepal defender Pratiksha failed to clear a long ball.
Bangladesh keeper Rupna Chakma saved her post in the 80th minute for the cost of a corner as she fisted the ball to deny Nepal forward Amisha Karki’s shot from point-blank range.
Super-sub Unnoti made the margin 3-0 in the 87th minute when she tapped the ball inside the net following a free-kick by Ripa from the right-top corner of the box.
With 3-0 up, Bangladesh still looked hungry for more goals in the second-half as Ripa and Shamsunnahar attempted several times from close range but their efforts went in vain against Nepal’s organised defense.
Bangladesh remained unbeaten throughout the competition as they defeated Nepal 3-1, Bhutan 5-0 and played a goalless draw against India in the league phase.
This was the second consecutive SAFF competition success for Bangladesh as their national side clinched the SAFF Women’s Championship title in September 2022 by beating hosts Nepal 3-1in the final at the Rangasala Stadium in Kathmandu when Shamsunnahar gave Bangladesh the lead.
Shamsunnahar, who finished as the top scorer of the tournament with five goals, was adjudged as the most valuable player of the competition while Rupna Chakma won the best keeper of the competition award.
‘We all hoped to win the title but did not think much about success or failure…Before taking the field, we just closed our eyes and remembered the country’s football loving people’s emotion,’ Shamsunnahar told reporters after the match.
‘We took oath at the dressing room to give our best to win the game. And I said to all, if we cry after the game, it would be for the win…I am happy as it was my first trophy as captain.’
Choton hailed Shamsunnahar as the key player behind the team’s success and termed her an inspiration to all the players.
‘Shamsunnahar is the key player and inspiration for all the other players. Rupna is already the best keeper in the SAFF region…I just told them to play pressing game till the end, and they did that. As all of them were in the game, they got the success,’ he said after the match.