India hit Maldives for six


India’s Grace Dangmei and the Maldives’ Aishath Maahin (right) vie for the ball during their fifth SAFF Women’s Championship match in Biratnagar on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. Photo: Udipt Singh Chhetry/THT

Biratnagar, March 13

India defeated the Maldives 6-0 in the Group B match of the Women’s SAFF Championship here at the Sahid Rangashala grounds today.

The four-time defending champions dominated the first half and scored five goals, while India could not continue with the pace in the second half and netted one goal. The Maldives even could not take the ball to India’s post throughout the match but they were able to stop the opponents to some extent in the second half.

With the win, India stayed at the top of the three-team group with three points. Sri Lanka are the third team in the pool. In Group A, Nepal are at the top of the standing with three points, ahead of Bhutan and Bangladesh.

India opened the scoring in the 11th minute of the match capitalising on the defensive error. Grace Dangmei scored past the Maldives goalkeeper Aminath Leeza after defender Hawwa Haneefa failed to clear the ball and allowed the Indian player take control over the situation.

Sandhiya Ranganathan doubled the tally two minutes later when she netted a brilliant goal on a pass from Sangita Basfore. Indumathi Kathiresan was fortunate to get on to the scoresheet in the 22nd minute as the Maldives goalkeeper Aminath Leeza failed to stop the ball from kissing the nets despite getting her hands to it.

Sanju made it 4-0 in the 27th minute following a long pass from Dalima Chhibber, while Ratanbala Devi Nongmaithem extended the lead in the fourth minute of the first half injury time with a brilliant free kick from 25 yards. The organisers introduced ‘cooling break’ of three minutes after half an hour of play as temperatures soared to 30-plus degree Celsius. Sanju scored her second and team’s sixth goal in the 90th minute with a scorcher from 40 yards out.

India coach Mayol Nedugadan Rocky was satisfied with her team’s performance. “The team could not score more goals in the second half but I am not concerned with that,” she said. “We wanted to hold the ball and have possession with us,” Rocky added.

Maldives coach Athif Mohamed said the team was weakened by the injury to three of his defenders. “I did not start with the players who were not fully fit. We sent them in later on and the team could stop India in the second half,” said Mohamed. On Thursday, Bhutan will take on Bangladesh in the Group A match.


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