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SAFF U-16 Championship

SAFF U-16 Women's Championship: India thrash Nepal to reach final

Published at :March 7, 2024 at 9:12 PM
Modified at :March 7, 2024 at 9:12 PM
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(Courtesy : AIFF Media)

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Nobody expected India to come back this strong!

India outclassed hosts Nepal 10-0 to make the final of the SAFF U-16 Women’s Championship at the ANFA Sports Complex in Lalitpur on Thursday, March 7, 2024. The winners led 6-0 at half time.

Beaten in the previous match against Bangladesh, who will once again be India’s rivals in the final on Sunday, March 10, 2024, the Young Tigresses displayed urgency from the very beginning and scored in the second minute through Anita Dungdung. Thereafter, India piled up more misery on the home side with goals from Pearl Fernandes (14’, 43’), Anushka Kumari (22’), Bonifilia Shullai (25)’, Gurleen Kaur (32’, 77’), Min Maya Shrestha o.g, (46’), Gurnaz Kaur (58’) and Rheanna Liz Jacob (79’).

In three matches so far, the India U16 girls have scored 18 goals, conceding three; all of them came in the 1-3 defeat against Bangladesh.

India, who finished second in the four-team round-robin campaign with six points from three matches, thus earning the right to challenge group toppers Bangladesh in the title round, took an aggressive posture from the start. Head coach Biby Thomas’s decision to induct Anita Dungdung into the starting eleven proved a good move as she opened the account for India.

Poor defending by Nepal also made Anita’s job easier. She took advantage of a gaping hole in the Nepal defence to take the ball inside the six-yard box. But she lost the ball while trying to dribble past the goalkeeper and as it looked like the defenders would manage to avert the danger, Pearl Fernandes toed the ball for Anita again to roll it into the net.

In the 14th minute, Pearl entered her name on the scoresheet, the result of yet another defensive mistake to some extent. But credit to Pearl that she didn’t lose focus on the left and ran correctly to slam the ball in confidently.

Thereafter, it was a kind of one-way traffic, with the game being confined near the Nepal area. Anushka Kumari picked up her fifth goal of the tournament with a good shot, followed by another goal by Bonifilia Shullai.

The Indian coach took this opportunity to push in 12-year-old Gurleen Kaur in the 27th minute and it took the Punjab girl only five minutes to score her first international goal in her debut match. She took a rising volley from just inside the box that was well-directed. The Nepal custodian Jharna Dumrakoti made a late attempt, which didn’t come to her help. Gurleen proved to be a girl with good touches and made regular impacts in the attacking third.

Nepal, on the other hand, could barely stretch the Indian defence. Goalkeeper Munni, who made her debut, spent an uneventful afternoon under the bar.

India U16 Women: Munni (GK), Divyani Linda, Sarangthem Alena Devi, Elizabed Lakra, Rupashree Munda (Ritu Badaik 87’), Thandamoni Baskey (Rheanna Liz Jacob 46’), Bonifilia Shullai, Anushka Kumari, Shveta Rani (C) (Gurnaz Kaur 46’), Pearl Fernandes, Anita Dungdung (Gurleen Kaur 27’).

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