Lahore, 20 December: South Asian Games gold medalist India got rid of their traditional rival Pakistan 8-0 in the first semifinal of the first ever SAFF Women’s Football Championship today at the Cox’s Bazar Stadium. Other last four stage tie will be between Bangladesh and Nepal on Tuesday at same time. India will take on the winner of Tuesday’s semifinal match between Bangladesh and Nepal in the final on December 23.
Bala Devi fired in a hat-trick as India earned big win. Bala Devi (18th, 31st and 32nd minutes), Gayatri (26th and 39th), Sasmita Mallick (33rd), Amoolya (45th) and Manpreet Kaur (88th) were the goal scorers for India in the semifinal match at Cox’s Bazar Stadium. Indian coach Shahid Jabbar, who has prepared his team with matches against Indian U-19 and U-16 boys,
If it were cricket or hockey, Pak-India encounter would have been dubbed as a mouth-watering contest. Even a men’s football contest would have had the makings of a fierce battle as both the teams have one victory each in last five years. But in women’s football, both are poles apart and hence Monday’s semifinal was almost a forgone conclusion.
The last time, in the 11th South Asian Games in January this year India walked home with a 6-0 victory. And it is not expected to be anything different after the performances that these two teams have put on so far in the tournament.
Regional powerhouse India have comfortably won all their matches in the group phase and semi scoring a staggering 39 goals and are yet to concede any. On the other hand, Pakistan started their campaign well with two wins against relatively weak oppositions, but when they came up against a strong Nepal and Indian side, they were helpless.
Pakistani coach Tariq Lutfi, a long-time men team coach who has been entrusted with the job of coaching the females last month, admitted India were strong opponents, but he had not left out the hope of making an upset. “India was a strong team but we focused to play out best football, we still have a lot to learn but we have not left the idea about producing an upset, that never came” said Tariq.
Lutfi, demoralised at the defeat against India, where their defensive and goalkeeping frailties were severely revealed, Lutfi conceded that they are far weaker opponents: “We are only at the initial stage of international football while our opponents have been in the circuit for more than three decade. So, obviously they are way ahead of us. But we will try to give our everything in the future assignments.”
Tuesday Fixture : Bangladesh v Nepal ( Second semi-final 12.30 PM PST)