The ongoing sixth edition of the SAFF Women’s Championship has seen some new records in nine matches in the group stage and two matches in the semi-final.
Now, there is final match remaining and it will surely have a new record. Both the finalists, Nepal and Bangladesh, have never won the SAFF Women’s championship. It means whoever wins will become the new winner this time.
Nepal have reached the final for the fifth time and Bangladesh for the second time after 2016 when Nepal could not reach the final.
So, what are these new records being set in the sixth SAFF Women’s Championship?
1. Rise of a new champion
The SAFF Women’s Championship will get a new champion in its history of 12 years: either Nepal or Bangladesh.
Previously, India bagged the title of the fifth edition of the championship. Nepal have been defeated four times and Bangladesh one time in the final.
In 2010, Nepal lost 1-0 against India in the final of the SAFF Women’s Championship held in Bangladesh. Likewise, in 2012, they lost 3-1 to India in the championship organised in Sri Lanka.
In the third edition of the SAFF Women’s Championship in Pakistan in 2014, Nepal lost to India 6-0. With this victory, the South Asian giant made a hat-trick in the championship.
In the 2016 edition, Bangladesh reached the final for the first time ultimately to get lost to India 3-1. In 2019, Nepal were defeated by India 3-1 on their home ground.
2. India’s defeat after 12 years
India have been defeated for the first time in the 12-year-long history of the SAFF Women’s Championship this time. The five-time winner even could not reach the final phase this time.
The other interesting thing about this edition is the South Asian giant lost the match against both the finalists. In the group stage, India were defeated 3-0 by Bangladesh whereas they lost to Nepal 1-0 in the semifinal.
In the 2016 SAFF Women’s Championship, Bangladesh played a draw against India in the group stage before losing to them in the final. Nepal have lost four finals and one semi-final to India.
In 2019, Nepal won over India in Hero Gold Cup held in their (Indian) home ground. At that time, Nepal’s goal machine Sabitra Bhandari aka Samba scored two goals for Nepal. But, this time, in the absence of Bhandari too, Nepal won over India. After the first match of the group stage, Bhandari was infected with dengue.
3. Clean sheet in every match
In this edition of the SAFF Women’s Championship, only the winning teams have scored goals.
So far, Nepal have scored 11 goals. Under the leadership of new captain Anjila Tumbapo Subba, Nepal won three matches without conceding a goal and maintained a clean sheet.
In the group stage, Nepal scored 4-0 against Bhutan, 6-0 against Sri Lanka and in the semifinal 1-0 against India.
Bangladesh in the group stage scored 3-0 against the Maldives, 6-0 against Pakistan and 3-0 against India. In the semifinal, they scored 8-0 against Bhutan.
Likewise, Bhutan and Pakistan also did not concede any goals in their winning matches during the group stage. Bhutan scored 5-0 against Sri Lanka and Pakistan scored 7-0 against the Maldives. Pakistan played football after a hiatus of seven years yet won their first match.
Sri Lanka and the Maldives, during the group stage, faced two and three losses respectively. Sri Lanka conceded 11 goals and the Maldives conceded 19 goals without scoring a single.
4. The historical journey of Bhutan
Lately, the Bhutan government has been investing well in its football academy. The men’s team have already proven themselves. Likewise, the women’s team of Bhutan won the first match in history and were promoted to the semifinal.
In the first match of Group A, Bhutan lost to the hosts while in the second match they won over Sri Lanka 5-0. Bhutan reached the SAFF semifinal for the first time to get defeated terribly (8-0) by Bangladesh.
5. The new venue
For the first time in the history of 12 years, SAFF Women’s Championship has been organised at Dasharath Stadium, Kathmandu. When Nepal hosted the event for the first time in 2019, it took place in Sahid Maidan Stadium, Biratnagar. Prior to that, the championship has been organised by Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India one time each.
This is the biggest women’s football tournament ever held at Dasharath Stadium.
6. Two hat-tricks by the Bangladeshi captain
Bangladeshi captain Sabina Khatun has been showing great performance in the ongoing SAFF Women’s Championship. She has scored eight goals that include two hat-tricks, making her the highest scorer in this edition of the championship. Khatun scored hat-tricks against Pakistan in the group stage and Bhutan in the semifinals. Likewise, she also scored two goals against the Maldives in the first match of the group stage while she could not score against India.
Similarly, Nadiya Khan of Pakistan also scored four goals against the Maldives in a group stage.
MS Jahan Shopna of Bangladesh and Anju Tamang of India have scored four goals each.
Similarly, Sabitra Bhandari, Anita Basnet, Amisha Karki and Rashmi Kumari Ghising have scored two goals each for the Nepali side.
This story was translated from the original Nepali version and edited for clarity and length.