Preeti Rai - WAFF Women’s Championship
Preeti Rai celebrated after scoring a last-minute winner against Lebanon in the semi-final of the WAFF Women’s Championship. Photo courtesy: West Asian Football Federation

Kathmandu, February 28

Nepal secured a spot in the WAFF Women’s Championship finals in Saudi Arabia by defeating Lebanon 2-1, thanks to a goal by Preeti Rai in the dying minutes of the game. Nepal will now face defending champion Jordan in the final.

In the second semi-final held at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, Nepal made a remarkable comeback from a one-goal deficit.

Lebanon took the lead after Nepal scored an own goal in the 38th minute of the game by Pooja Rana whose back pass was not read by Anjila Tumbapo Subba.

In the second half, Nepal intensified their efforts to level the game, and in the 76th minute, Sabitra Bhandari found the back of the net, equalising the score for Nepal.

This was Bhandari’s ninth goal of the tournament, having scored in all four matches played by Nepal thus far. She netted one goal against Syria in the first match, followed by an impressive five-goal haul against Iraq, and two against Palestine.

Preeti Rai scored a crucial goal in the match’s final moments when it seemed headed for a draw. In the fifth minute of stoppage time, lasting an additional five minutes, Nepal earned a corner. After the Lebanese defence failed to clear the corner, Preeti seised the opportunity outside the penalty box and unleashed a powerful shot that sailed into the net.

Nepal, making their debut in the WAFF Championship, now stands just one step away from clinching the title.

They will now face five-time winners and defending champions Jordan in the final.

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