DHAKA: After a fabulous start to their SAFF U-20 Women’s Championship campaign, India was held to a goalless draw at the Mustafa Kamal Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Sunday.
It was a close contest from the opening exchanges, with India creating more chances despite a deluge of midfield traffic. Sumati Kumari had the chance to get the lead early on in the 7th minutes, when she was played through by Nitu Linda, but Bangladesh keeper Rupna Chakma pulled off a great save.
Chakma was again called into action around the quarter hour mark, when Sunita Munda flicked a Shubhangi Singh cross with her head. Shubhangi was accurate with her set-pieces, and thought she had helped India take the lead on the half-hour mark, when Kajol tapped her delivery in, but the referee had deemed the delivery to have gone out of play before curling in.
Bangladesh had a rare attempt when Shaheda let one fly from long range with minutes left for the half time whistle, but it landed on the roof of the net.
India Head Coach Maymol Rocky played her hand at the half time itself, bringing on Neha in place of Sumati Kumari. The midfield scrum thickened in the second half, but Kajol managed to get a shot on target from a long-range free-kick, which was duly saved by Chakma. The Bangladesh custodian was at it again a few minutes later when Neha surged into the box from the left flank and looked to fizz in a dangerous cross to Apurna Narzary, but Chakma plucked it out of the air. That was the last piece of action for Narzary, who was soon replaced by Lynda Kom Serto.
Neha had the golden opportunity of the second half, when Munda picked her out from the right, but the ball took an awkward bounce off the artificial turf and went out of play. Anita Kumari, Tania Kanti, and Babina Lisham were soon introduced into the fray with the clock ticking down, but the two sides remained locked till the end.
Baniba had one final chance in added time as Anita cut it back for her from a dangerous position, but the former’s shot was blocked, as the referee soon brought an end to the game.
Reflecting on the match after the final whistle, India Head Coach Rocky said as quoted by an All India Football Federation (AIFF), “The result definitely matters, but the girls played well. We actually missed a few very good chances which we were sure could have led to goals. They were either spectacularly saved by their keeper, or maybe hit outside the frame. Game-wise though, the girls were up to the task today, and played well. We are looking forward to the next one.”
The Young Tigresses now have four points from two matches, and will next play Nepal at the same venue on Tuesday, February 7, 2023, with the match slated for a 2.30 pm IST kick-off. (ANI)