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Friday, June 21, 2024

India go down to Bangladesh in SAFF U16 Women’s Championship

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Kathmandu: India’s fortunes in the SAFF U19 Women’s Championship took a hit on Monday night when they went down to strong Bangladesh 1-3 at the ANFA Sports Complex in Lalitpur here.

While the victory took Bangladesh to the top of the group in the four-team round-robin with six points from two matches and virtually earned them a spot in the final, India were left to fend with three points from two matches.

The Young Tigresses will now have to wait until their last match against Nepal to ensure their place in the challenge round.

After Alpi Akter put Bangladesh ahead in the ninth minute, diminutive attacking midfielder Anushka Kumari scored her fourth goal of the tournament to restore parity in the 55th minute.

India, however, could not save the day as Sauravi Akanda Prity made the best use of a defensive lapse in the 79thminute to clinch the second goal for Bangladesh. Arpita Biswas delivered the telling blow with yet another goal in the 89th minute.

Given the recent results across all age groups, Bangladesh are considered a force to be reckoned with in women’s football in the SAFF region. They often beat their rivals, including India, convincingly. But it wasn’t the scenario on Monday, even though Bangladesh walked away with all three points.

India were beaten, but not disgraced. The inexperienced kids, coached by Biby Thomas, did a decent job in the middle and regularly pressed hard from both flanks through skipper Shveta Rani and Nira Chanu. But unlike Bhutan, who lost 0-7 against India, the Bangladesh defence is much more compact and refuses to allow any room for the rival attackers.

India went into arrears in the ninth minute, which not only cost them dear but also dented their confidence to some extent. It was a rather unexpected blow as Alpi Akter intercepted an erroneous defensive clearance and chipped it rather hopefully toward the Indian goal.

The attempt was hardly poisonous, but it was right in the frame. Indian custodian Surajmuni Kumari jumped correctly to collect it and to the horror of her teammates, the ball slipped through her hands and landed inside.

India made a rousing start to the second half. In the 50th minute, they were distinctly unlucky not to find the target as Shveta Rani’s rasping drive beat the goalkeeper all ends up only to hit the crossbar.

The Young Tigresses, however, didn’t have to wait long as Anushka Kumari brought relief to the bench with the equaliser.

Anushka’s cross from the extreme end of the right dipped into the goal, leaving the Bangladesh goalkeeper baffled. Anuksha scored three goals against Bhutan in the first match. But today’s goal, unfortunately, didn’t have much effect on the ultimate result.

Indian U16 Women: Surajmuni Kumari (GK), Divyani Linda, Sarangthem Alena Devi, Elizabed Lakra, Rupashree Munda, Thandamoni Baskey (Anita Dungdung 90+3′), Bonifilia Shullai, Anushka Kumari, Longjam Nira Chanu (Anwita Raghuraman 77′), Shveta Rani (C), Pearl Fernandes.

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