Lahore, 14 December: Pakistan’s women football team gave no room to Maldives and grabbed comeback 2-1 win in the first Group-B match of first SAFF Women Football Championship at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on Tuesday.
Mehwish Khan (Diya FC) scored the opening goal in 44th minute – the first in international arena history for Pakistan Women Football – and Malaika Noor (Young Rising Star) hit the winner in the 89th minute from a penalty mark.
Eight teams are participating in the event. Pakistan will now play its second match against Nepal on December 16 and third match against Afghanistan on December 18.
Maldives opened the scoring midway through first half when Syeda Mahapara, who had a great game, conceded her lone goal of the tight-finish match. But Mehwish, who attended FIFA Regional Coaching Course for Women’s Football at Colombo alongwith Mejzgaan Orakzai, infused new spirit in Pakistani girls with sweetly-timed header off corner by Malaika Noor past Maldives keeper Ahmed Fazna.
Gilgit-born Malaika Noor, an expert while taking corners and free kicks, showed her class on set-pieces. The midfielder who finished Leading Scorer of the sixth National Women Football Championship last August with nine goals, hammered the all important last-ditch winner through spot-kick.
Pakistani coach Tariq Lutfi fielded skipper Sana Mahmood, Syeda Mahapara, Malaika Noor, Sahar Zaman who belonged to Young Rising Star and all of them alongwith other players with game plan given by Lutfi.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh got their campaign off to a comfortable start with a 2-0 victory over Sri Lanka in their Group A.while favourites India got off to a rollicking start after they put an unbelievable eighteen unanswered goals past a hapless Bhutan side. Sasmita Mallick proved to be a nightmare for the Bhutanese defence as she scored seven goals, while Bala Devi was equally impressive and scored five goals. Tababi Devi bagged four goals, while Pinky and Amoolya too registered their name in the scoresheet scoring one goal each.
India dictated the terms right from the first whistle and pumped in ten goals in the opening half, while they escalated the form in the second half and scored eight more goals to give a perfect start to their SAFF Championship
For Bangladesh, a first half strike by Suinu Pru Marma, doubled by Sabina Khatun in the second half meant the scoreline from the SA Games earlier this year was repeated in the seaside city.
The match got off to an explosive start as striker Suinu scored an astounding goal even before the crowd had settled into their seats. Collecting the ball from midfield, she unleashed a left footer from twenty yards out that eluded the keeper’s hands and nestled into the top corner of the net.
Minutes later, Suinu once again created havoc in the Sri Lanka defence when she cut back from the right wing, danced past a defender before releasing a cross that was all too difficult for the Lankan keeper, the fumbled fist was headed back by Aung Mrachin but eventually cleared off the line by the defence.
Bangladesh created a few more chances in the first half, but could not increase the lead.
However, somewhat against the run of play Bangladesh scored again on the 71st minute through Sabina Khatun. It originated from a counterattack as Sabina took the ball on her own from inside her own half, danced past a defender, cut back inside another, took the ball on the right foot before sliding it in under the diving goalkeeper.
The rest of the game was dominated by Bangladesh although the scoreline remained unchanged. The winners were given a huge ovation by the 10,000-strong when they went on a victory lap.
Bottom of Form
Wednesday (Dec 15) Fixture : India vs Sri Lanka 11:05 AM. Bangladesh vs Bhutan 2:30 PM