women football team THE UNSEEN CHAMPIONS

The spectacular win of Indian women football team.

These were the words used by my cousin when I asked him about the poor condition of the game in our country. You feel me right. Yes, you do. I know this because it has been almost three days since Indian Women Football Team won SAFF championship beating Bangladesh 3-1 to bring the trophy home but still I don’t see it breaking the Internet or even the twitter handle. Neither new hash tags used nor any media coverage. It’s high time we shift our focus from International Icons like C.Ronaldo or Messi and focus on some Local warriors.

Over the years, I have always been stuck up in between arguments comparing the richness of cricketers with the sick condition of other sportsperson in our nation. From hearing about how a FIFA authorized referee drives an auto rickshaw to a national level boxer selling panipuri to earn their livelihood. Well people have always come up with one or another excuse, favorite being “They have never won any major competition while we won cricket world cup in ’83.

Well here comes the surprise, Indian woman football team have won this major competition for the fourth time in a row. Blown away, I know. Next excuse please, I dare you I DOUBLE dare you.

Anyway now the Indian eves are unbeaten in the last 19 games, winning 18 and drawing one.


Group Stage

India was placed in group B along with Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The campaign began with defeating Afghanistan 5-1 on the 27th of December, 2016.

The goal scorers being Y. Devi  (3′, 32′), Malik  (29′), Grace  (45+2′), Yadav  (90+2′) for India with
 (88′) replying once for Afghanistan.

The next match was against the eventual finalist Bangladesh which ended in a stalemate (0-0).

India became the runner up in Pool B on goal difference while Bangladesh qualified as the group winners. The other two teams from Pool A were Nepal and Maldives with former being the group winners.

As a result of which India were drawn against Nepal while Bangladesh played Maldives in the semi-final.

 Knockout Stage

India met Nepal in the first semi-final on 2nd of January and they emerged victorious by 3-1. With Devi (45′), Kathiresan  (50′) and Malik  (83′) bagging goals for the host and Bhandari (75’) got one back for Nepal.

While Bangladesh scored 6 goals against Maldives without a reply and progressed to the finals.

The Final

Dangmei Grace scored as the clock ticked a dozen minutes and gave India the much awaited lead. However, Bangladesh kept up the tempo and were rewarded in the 40th minute by grabbing the equalizer through the boots of Shopna.

And India went into halftime being locked at 1-1. Another draw was on the cards but when the second half kicked off, India were quick to get off the mark.

The game went into the hour past kick off when the continuous threat by the forwards led to a defensive error by the Bangladeshi defender and Bala Devi won a penalty.

It was converted in by Sasmita Malik and India took the lead.

Bangladesh were searching for another equalizer but to their horror Indumati scored a knuckle blaster from a long-range shot and made it impossible for Bangladesh to make a comeback. With a mountain to climb, Bangladesh attacked but India soaked it all with some brilliant defending.

On the final whistle, India became the women football ”SAFF” champions for the fourth continuous time.

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