By a Staff Reporter
Nepal National Women’s Football Team and Nepal APF Football Club striker Sabitra Bhandari aka Samba is set to head towards India on Saturday to join Gokulam Kerela FC.
Samba and Gokulam Kerela FC reached an agreement last month for a time period of one year. Samba was the prime player of the team when Gokulam Kerela FC crowned the title of the Indian Women’s League (IWL) a couple of years ago. With the top-notch performance from Samba, Gokulam bagged the trophy remaining undefeated.
Samba scored goals in all the league matches. She was named the top scorer of the league with 16 goals. She also scored 3 goals in the playoffs. Similarly, in 2019, Samba helped Sethu FC to clinch the title of IWL for the first time. She scored 14 goals that season.
Due to injury, Samba was forced not to step in the field for a long time a year ago as she caught a knee injury in Falgun 2077. She got her ACL / meniscus injury operated on Aspetar in Doha, Qatar. After returning back home, she has been active on the field again and had already played several matches in Nepal Women’s League from APF Club. The APF Women’s team is at the top of Nepal’s Women League after the completion of the first round at Chitwan. The second round of the league is yet to begin.
After marking a successful comeback, Samba states that she is excited and rejoiced to play in India again. “Gokulam requested me to play from their team last season as well but due to injuries I was not able to do so,” Samba stated. “Once again the club has shown their belief in me. I will try my best to perform like before and make the club happy,” she added.
Samba will play AFC Club Championship Qualifiers, State League, and Indian Women League from the club this season. The West Zone group stage match of the AFC Women’s Club Championship will be held in Uzbekistan from August 20 to 26. Along with India’s champion Gokulam, Uzbekistan’s Sogdiana, Jordan’s Orthodox Club, and Iran’s club Khatun Bam FC are drawn in the West Zone group. Samba will return to Nepal after the completion of the group stage.
Similarly, there are three teams in the East Zone group. Hosts College of Asian Scholars of Thailand, ISPE WFC of Myanmar and Taichung Blue Whale FC of Taipei drawn in the East Zone will compete from August 15 to 21. The top two teams from both groups will play the final on October 22.
AFC is preparing to start the AFC Women’s Champions League in 2024. Previously, Nippon Belleza of Japan won the title in 2019, and Amman Club of Jordan won the title in 2021.