India women gear up for Sri Lanka test in SAG football

Shillong, Feb 8 (IANS) After a goalless stalemate in their first match against Maldives in the South Asian Games (SAG), the Indian women’s senior football team will clash with Sri Lanka here on Tuesday in what is a “must win fixture” for the hosts.

Though the Indians were dominant in both possession and shots on goal in their opening clash against the Maldives, they paid dearly as they could not take the chances that came their way.

India’s head coach Sajid Dar, dubbed the fixture against Sri Lanka as a “must win one.”

“It is a must win match for us, as three points will relieve a lot of pressure. The squad showcased attacking football in our first match against the Maldives and we have worked on converting our chances in the training sessions for a better result against Sri Lanka,” Dar said in a release on Monday.

The last time the two sides squared-off was in the Olympic preliminaries qualifiers where India won 4-0, courtesy strikes from Ashalata Devi, Kamala Devi, Radharani and an own goal by Malisha Nilini.

However, Dar believes that Sri Lanka are the “dark horses” of the tournament as they have evolved in their style of play over the last couple of years.

“We have to be cautious of our opponents as they possess the necessary means which can harm us. At the same time, we will play for a win and give our best on the field,” he said.

Reflecting back on the Maldives match, captain Bembem Devi said, “Had we taken our chances, we would’ve scored many goals, let alone win the match.”

“As a player you obviously feel sad when results don’t go your way. But that’s the beauty of football — it never fails to surprise.”

Speaking about the Sri Lanka match Devi opined that the “fixture will not be easy at all and we have to stay on our toes.”

“We also have a point to prove that we are still the best in the South Asian region and nothing except a win will do tomorrow,” she added.

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