FULL-TIME: Nepal 1-3 India
Nepal: 34′ Sabitra Bhandari
India: 26′ Dalima Chhibber; 63′ Dangmei Grace; 78′ Anju Tamang.
The Indian Women’s National Team marched to their fifth straight SAFF Women’s Championship title after defeating Nepal in a keenly contested final.
The teams took to the field on a tepid summer afternoon and it was the home team who started the game on the front foot. Nepal had beaten India in the recently concluded Hero Gold Cup and the wrecker-in-chief from that game Sabitra Bhandari troubled the Indian defence.
The Nepalese captain Niru Thapa and Sabitra created a couple of chances early on, but they couldn’t find the target. Against the run of play, it was India who took the lead in the 26th minute from a free kick. Dalima Chhibber who has been scoring screamers with regularity was at it again and took a fantastic free kick from several yards outside the box. The Nepalese keeper mistimed her jump and was positioned awkwardly resulting in India taking the lead.
Sabitra who averages more than a goal a game for her country got Nepal back in the game with an equaliser in the 34th minute. Sabitra headed a loose ball into the net after the Indian center back Sweety Devi was unable to deal with a long ball in the box. Nepal would have a great chance to take the lead in first-half stoppage time, but Aditi Chauhan stood tall to deny the home side.
The teams went into the half-time break level on scores. While the first half saw the teams lose possession in midfield often, the second half was more of an end to end affair with India creating more potent chances. They would take the lead in the 63rd minute after the forward Sandhiya’s through ball around the box found Dangmei who was 1v1 with the keeper. The winger side-stepped the oncoming keeper to create space and slotted the ball into the net.
Buoyed after going in front, the Indian team continued to throttle Nepalese forays forward by allowing them very little time on the ball. The Indian team got a third goal to end the Nepalese resistance in the 78th minute. Indumathi who has scored four goals in this tournament turned creator and setup the substitute Anju Tamang who finished with ease.
With the win in the final today, India have won all five editions of the SAFF Women’s Championship. They haven’t yet been beaten in the tournament and their unbeaten run now stands at 23 games. They’ve scored the most goals, conceded the least and top the points scored across all five editions.
In the current edition of the tournament, they picked up convincing wins over Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh en route to the final and did not concede a goal. In fact, the only goal they conceded was in today’s final – such was their dominance and they are deserving winners of the 2019 SAFF Women’s Championship.