50 goals and counting for Samba in international football

Himal Press 23 Feb 2024
50 goals and counting for Samba in international football

KATHMANDU: Nepali national women’s team striker Sabitra Bhandari, who goes by the moniker Samba, has become the first Nepali footballer to score 50 international goals.

Sabitra achieved the rare feat when she scored her fifth goal in a match against Iraq in the 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship in Jeddah on Thursday. This was her 44th match in the national colors. She has scored in 25 of these 44 matches.

The record set by Samba, who signed for French Division 1 Feminine side EA Guingamp in January, is extraordinary as the record for the most goals scored in national colors among male footballers is only 13 – jointly shared by Anjan Bista, Hari Khadka, and Nirajan Rayamajhi. Among them, Khadka and Rayamajhi have already hung up their boots.

Sabitra got her first goal in the national colors in her debut match for the country against Bhutan in 2014. It took her a decade to get her 50th goal.

Sabitra couldn’t add to her tally as Nepal didn’t play any international matches in 2015. However, in 2016, she scored 15 goals in two international tournaments – the 2016 South Asian Games and the 2016 SAFF Women’s Championship – as well as in an international friendly against Malaysia.

In 2017, Nepal played three international matches, including the final of the 2016 SAFF Women’s Championship. Sabitra scored one goal during the year – in a friendly against Malaysia.

Nepal played three friendlies against China and three matches of the 2020 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers in 2018. Sabitra scored only one goal (against Myanmar) during the year.

Sabitra, however, scored 20 goals in 2019 before an ACL injury interrupted her goal-scoring run.

She made a comeback in 2022, scoring two goals against Bhutan. She added four in 2023 – two against India and one each against Vietnam and Bangladesh.

Sabitra has scored six goals so far in 2024. All her goals came in the first two matches of the 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship. She scored one against Syria in the first match of the championship and scored five more in the second match against Iraq.

Sabitra is also the top scorer of the Indian Women’s League with 59 goals scored over three seasons.

Sabitra’s Feat:

2014 – 1 goal (against Bhutan)

2016 – 15 goals (two against Sri Lanka, 1 against Malaysia, six against Bhutan, five against the Maldives, and one against India)

2017 – 1 goal (against Malaysia)

2018 – 1 goal (against Myanmar)

2019 – 20 goals (four against Kyrgyzstan, three each against India and the Maldives, two each against Iran, Indonesia and Uzbekistan, and one each against Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Tajikistan)

2022 – 2 goals (against Bhutan)

2023 – 4 goals (two against India, and one each against Vietnam and Bangladesh)

2024 – 6 goals (five against Iraq and one against Syria)

Published On: 23 Feb 2024


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