Wednesday, April 17

India begin title defense beating Pakistan

By a Staff Reporter

Defending Champions India got off to a winning start in the Sixth SAFF Women’s Championship beating Pakistan 3-0.

Pakistan started off well keeping ball possession and creating a few attacks but to no return. India slowly gained momentum and led the game via own goal. Sandhiya Ranganathan’s cross from the left was parried away by Mahapara Shahida. The rebound hit Maria Khan and went into the goal to put India in front.

India doubled the lead soon after with Dangmei Grace getting into the scoresheet. She received Anju Tamang’s clever pass and guided the ball in 1v1 position. India piled on the pressure but couldn’t add to their tally.

India completed a 3-0 win in injury time of second half. Substitute Soumya Gugulgoth scored off Ranjana Chanu’s cross to open her account for the national team.

India Reaction:

India’s Coach Suren Chetry said they were happy to start off with a win. ‘A win is a win. First match in these tournament are always tough. We didn’t know anything about Pakistan so we stuck to our own plan,’ he said.

Player of the match Dangmei Grace was happy to start title defense with a win. ‘First match is always very tricky. We had to get the win and did it. Of course there are areas to improve and we’ll see them in coming matches,’ she said.

Grace was away from the team and joined late on. She said her experience with the team means it is easy for her to cooperate. ‘I was away for two months. But having spent 12-13 years with the team, it is not tough. There are young players in the team but we can go forward together,’ she added.

Pakistan reaction:

Pakistan Coach Adil Rizki was happy with the team’s performance. ‘We are happy with how the team played. The ladies played well after making a comeback after 8 years. With this performance, we can expect the future is bright for the ladies,’ he added.

Despite having a strong start, Rizki said India’s strength meant the team had to stick to their plan. ‘We need to look at our opponents too. They were stronger than us and we stuck to our own plan. The scoreline and result went their way but I am happy with the team’s performance,’ he said.

Skipper Maria Khan and co. looked emotional after the final whistle. When asked about the state of team, she said they were proud to be back in the fold. ‘We are proud to be back. After 8 long years, we have showed the world what Pakistan women’s football can do. This goes out to all the women and other players who represent their country,’ she said.

Pakistan is set to take on Bangladesh in the next match and Maria said all the teams in the tournament are competitive and not to be taken with ease. ‘All teams in the tournament are equal. No team is easy to play against. We do our homework against all the team and Bangladesh will be no different,’ she ended.

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