KATHMANDU, Dec 23: Nepal´s dream of lifting the title of the First SAFF Women´s Football Championship was shattered on Thursday as they suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of regional powerhouse India in the final held in Cox´s Bazar, Bangladesh.
Sushmita Mallik of India scored the only goal of the match in the second half. Mallik scored the decider in the 66th minute after a goalless first half in which both teams squandered several chances.
The defeat also ended Nepal´s winning streak, and the goal was the first conceded by Nepal in the championship. India, meanwhile, returned home without conceding a goal.
In a competitive final, Nepali goalkeeper Chandra Devi Dahal put up a heroic show and denied as many as four powerful attempts by the Indians.
Nepal had booked a semifinal berth as the winners of group B while India had topped group A to enter the last four. In the semifinals, Nepal had defeated the hosts Bangladesh 3-0 while India had thrashed Pakistan 8-0.
This is Nepal´s third consecutive defeat against India. The last time these two teams met was during the 11th South Asian Games (SAG). On that occasion, Nepal had played twice against India. India had thrashed Nepal 5-1 during their first meeting in the round robin stage, and 3-1 in the final. India and Nepal had secured final berths as the winners and runners-up in the round robin stage.
Nepal won the Fair Play award of the championship. Anu Lama was declared the best among Nepali players and was awarded a laptop. Lama scored a total of 11 goals in the event with three hat-tricks in a row during the group stage. In their run up to the final, Nepal had scored 34 goals and India 40.
The Nepali squad is returning home on Friday evening.