FULL-TIME: India 1-0 Iran
India: 48′ [Anju Tamang]
The Indian Women’s Team got off to a great start in the inaugural Hero Gold Cup with a comfortable win over the Iranian team.
India started the game on the front foot and had a chance early in the second minute. The winger Dangmei Grace sprang upon a loose back pass by Iran and took a shot on, but the keeper managed to keep it out. Ratan Bala shot wide in the 16th minute after the forward Anju Tamang set her up in the box. India had yet another great chance in the 29th minute after Ratan Bala with her back to the goal laid off a pass to Sanju Yadav, but the winger found her attempt cleared off the goal line.
After being on the receiving end, Iran gradually found their way into the game, but whatever they offered in attack was dealt with ease by the Indian defence as the teams went into the half-time break with the scores level.
India started the second half with more intensity and drive than in the first half. And they found a goal almost immediately with some slick attacking play. Sanju passed the ball to the excellent Indumathi and continued her run on the left flank. Indu prodded the ball to Ratan Bala who found Sanju in space in the box. Sanju squared the ball across the face of goal and Anju Tamang applied the finish. A well-worked and well-deserved goal for the Indian team to take the lead.
Trailing a goal, Iran tried to mount a comeback, but it was always going to be difficult against a strong Indian defence. The center-back pairing of Sweety Devi and Ashalata Devi were comfortable and intercepted and cleared well when they sensed danger. The totality of the game was played in midfield and any balls by Iran beyond that were comfortably dealt with by the former West Ham goalkeeper and Indian captain Aditi Chauhan.
The Indian side tonight were more physical, quick to close down and played with astuteness in midfield with Indumathi and Sangita exceptional tonight. The 19-year-old left fullback and local girl Jabamani Tudu deserves a special mention for her wing-back play. Sanju Yadav spelt trouble for the Iranian defence with her runs down the left and almost doubled the lead for India late in the game after her attempted shot hit the post.
With the win, the Indian team go level on points on top of the table with Myanmar who beat Nepal 3-0 earlier in the day. The top two teams after the round robin in the four-nation tournament will face off in the final on Feb. 15th.
This is India’s fifth win in a row and they’ve kept a clean sheet in their last four games. They now take on Nepal on February 11th.