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Monday, March 18, 2019

Samba ready to burden the shoulder

Sabitri Bhandari

Photo: THT

Biratnagar, March 18

National team striker Sabitri Bhandari has been tagged as one of the best forwards of her time in South Asia and Nepal’s run in the SAFF Women’s Championship largely depends on her performance.

Bhandari, who is popular by the nick name of Samba in football fraternity, has so far scored two goals and assisted in one as Nepal made it to the semi-finals as Group A winners.

Nepal defeated Bhutan 3-0 in the opening match before beating Bangladesh by the same scoreline yesterday.

Bhandari, who hails from Lamjung, has scored 24 goals in 25 matches and yesterday’s goal was the first against Bangladesh.

With Nepal 3-0 up, coach Hari Khadka replaced Bhandari by Rekha Paudel “to save her energy for the remaining matches and also protect the striker from possible injury”.

And that was the first time Bhandari got replaced in 20 matches since playing her first five matches as a substitute in her national team debut — the third SAFF Women’s Championship in 2014 in Pakistan. Coach Hari Khadka made a smart move as he is well aware of the importance of Bhandari’s presence in the team.

“She is our major weapon and we do not want to take any risk at this time as we are here to win the championship,”

Khadka justified. “She is the best striker I have seen in Nepali football with great speed and superb technique with loads of abilities. She has established her as a strong footballer in the South Asian region and she needs to improve a little bit in scoring,” he added.

Asked about the role of Bhandari in the team, Khadka said the team was heavily dependent on her. “Football is a team game but individual performance can make a huge difference. Sabitra has the ability to turn the match around at any time.

In her absence, Nepali women’s football will be like a body without spinal cord,” said Khadka.

The 22-year-old Bhandari was happy to be the most important member of the team.

“Each player in the team is equally responsible and we all have to complete our duty in the field. I feel happy to be rated as one of the best players of the region and feel proud on that. I have reached to this stage with hard work and support from my teammates,” said Bhandari.

Bhandari accepted that she could not perform to the potential in the first match and she put in an improved show against Bangladesh. “It was not only me who could not play well against Bhutan, and all the team members were below par on that particular day. But we played a good game against Bangladesh and we will definitely improve our performance in the next two games. We are confident of breaking India jinx and becoming champions this time around,” said Bhandari, who has set herself the target of beating Jamuna Gurung’s mark of 25 goals and move to second position. Anu Lama is the all-time highest scorer with 35 goals.

The post Samba ready to burden the shoulder appeared first on The Himalayan Times.

from Sports – The Himalayan Times https://ift.tt/2UIb7yP

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