Indian women’s football team enter SAG final

Shillong, Feb 13 (IANS) The Indian women’s football team secured a place in the final of the 12th South Asian Games (SAG) as they steam-rolled Bangladesh 5-1 in a must-win clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Saturday.

Braces from Kamala and Bala Devi and a goal from Sanju led India to a dominating win over their opponents, who were pinned in their own defending half for much of the match. India will clash against Nepal in the final on Monday.

Coming on the back of a goalless stalemate against Nepal, India piled pressure on Bangladesh in an attempt to take an early lead. As early as the second minute, India advanced as Premi Devi released Kamala Devi on to the goal. A last ditch tackle by the Bangladeshi defence line, however, thwarted the attack.

In the fourth minute, Sasmita Malik came close to giving India the lead as her cheeky chip flew inches over the bar. Waves of attacks were bound to garner dividends and in the sixth minute India took a solitary goal lead when Kamala blasted her opportunity home.

With India showcasing fluid attacking football, the Indian defence mopped up rare Bangladeshi counter-attacks.

It wouldn’t be long for India to pile more misery on their opponents as in the 13th minute, Bala Devi volleyed the ball home, following an uncanny Bangladeshi clearance to make it 2-0 for the hosts.

Eight minutes later, Bala’s rasping header earned a top-draw save from the Bangladeshi custodian as India, hungry for more goals, pinned Bangladesh in their own defending half.

A clever little flick by Bala (37th minute) released Kamala on to the goal. Kamala showed sheer composure and skill as she comfortably slotted it past an onrushing Bangladeshi custodian to triple India’s lead.

Even in the dying embers of the first half, India tried to score their fourth of the match as opportunities came in plenty. However, to no avail as the half-time scoreline read 3-0.

The second-half was no different in terms of the Indian domination and Bala’s rocket-of-a-shot in the 46th minute was parried away by the Bangladeshi custodian.

The Indian midfield, meanwhile, turned on the style as they jotted down exquisite one-touch passes to carve open the Bangladesh defence line.

Sasmita, who proved to be a thorn for an innate Bangladeshi defence, cut-in from the right flank in the 53rd minute and released a curling shot which flew whiskers wide of the post.

In the 65th minute however, Bangladesh scored against the run of play to make it 1-3 as Indian custodian Aditi Chauhan failed to keep out a feeble attempt.

As the temperature dropped, the unanimous cheering from Indian fans rose, hollering the women through with chants of “come on India”. A sheer moment of brilliance by Under-19 player Sanju (74th) made it 4-1 for India as she latched onto a Bembem Devi through ball and out-ran her marking defender, before finally slotting the ball home with acute composure.

Shortly after, Bala Devi out manoeuvred the Bangladeshi defence and blasted her opportunity into the top corner to make the scoreline 5-1 in favour of India.

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