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Indian women close in on hat-trick of SAFF crowns

Updated November 20, 2014

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Nepal’s goalkeeper (obscured) tries to catch the ball under pressure during the SAFF Women’s Championship semi-final 
against Bangladesh on Wednesday.—Tanveer Shahzad/White Star
Nepal’s goalkeeper (obscured) tries to catch the ball under pressure during the SAFF Women’s Championship semi-final against Bangladesh on Wednesday.—Tanveer Shahzad/White Star

ISLAMABAD: India will be looking to claim the third consecutive South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Women’s Championship title when they clash with Nepal here at the Jinnah Stadium on Friday.

Interestingly, the same two teams have qualified for their third straight final.

In the final of the second edition staged in Colombo two years ago, India overcame Nepal 3-1. Earlier in the inaugural SAFF Women’s Championship held in Bangladesh 2010, the same teams vied for the title in the final won by India 1-0.

On Wednesday in the semi-finals, India blanked Sri Lanka 5-0 while Nepal edged out Bangladesh 1-0.

In the first semi-final, India’s victory in the lop-sided match was too convincing, to say the least.

The glut of goals started in the 23rd minute when striker Indumathi scored the first. Nine minutes later, Bala Davi doubled the lead. India remained 2-0 ahead till the halftime.

India maintained their dominance in the second half and kept attacking. The reward for came in the 48th minute when Iromm Premeshwori Devi made it 3-0.

In the 69th, Indumathi scored her second goal and four minutes later Yamnam Kamala Devi on penalty-kick scored the fifth goal, giving India supreme position in the match.

After taking an insurmountable 5-0 lead, India — due to slippery conditions at the ground — started playing slow game in order to avoid injury to their players.

“After scoring five goals which had almost confirmed our victory, we avoided any risk because we want to show our energy in the final,” said Indian coach Tarun Roy.

Responding to a query on the tournament’s importance to Pakistan, Roy said organising the multi-nation event will pave the way for Pakistan to host more such competitions. “This time, eight international teams are participating in this event and I hope in coming years more teams will come here.”

Indian captain Bala Devi kicks acrobatically during the semi-final against Sri Lanka.
—White Star
Indian captain Bala Devi kicks acrobatically during the semi-final against Sri Lanka. —White Star

When asked to comment on the coming final, the Indian team coach said: “I think it will be a good contest. Last time too, we faced Nepal in the decider.”

Meanwhile, the second last-four clash between Bangladesh and Nepal proved a close contest.

Bangladesh gave tough time to a strong Nepal team as the first half ended with 0-0 scoreline.

The crucial moment came ten minutes into the second half, when Nepal were awarded a penalty-kick.

Their midfielder Sajana Rana made no mistake in scoring the goal.

The strike proved decisive with no further goals coming in the remaining time as Nepal with the narrow win made it to the third consecutive final.

PFF CONGRESS HELD

Earlier on Wednesday, the ExCo meeting of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) was held followed by the PFF Congress which was attended by AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.

In his address, which was his first at any Congress of an AFC member association, the head of Asian football praised the work being done by the Faisal Saleh Hayat-led PFF.

“Under his [Faisal’s] dynamic leadership, Pakistan football has made unprecedented development,” he said.

Sheikh Salman also assured AFC’s support for the development in all departments of Pakistan football.

Faisal said it was a great honour for the PFF to have the AFC chief attend its Congress, saying it “shows AFC’s support for the development of football in Pakistan”.

The Congress also saw Pakistan’s Bahraini head-coach Shamlan Al Mubarak give a presentation showing the progress of Pakistan’s national team.

Published in Dawn, November 20th , 2014