The India U17 Women’s National team spent some anxious moments in the last 15 minutes before emerging 2-1 winners against Myanmar in its concluding AFC U-17 Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers Round 1 tie on Friday.
With this victory, India qualified from Group F for Round 2 of the tournament scheduled for September later this year. In the three-team group, India won both its matches against the Kyrgyz Republic and Myanmar and finished with six points.
After Sulanjana and Pooja put India in a 2-0 lead by the 33rd minute, Myanmar threatened to make a comeback when Ya Min Phyu reduced the margin for them in the 75th minute. The last 15 minutes turned out to be a tense affair as Myanmar pressed hard for the equaliser, but the Indian defence stood tall to thwart the rival attackers.
During this period, Myanmar, looking for the elusive goal, turned physical at times, and two of its players – Yu Yu Naing and Ya Min Phyu – were given marching orders by the referee for some off-the-ball fouls, leaving it with nine players on the pitch in the last few minutes.
It was Sulanjana, who gave India the lead in the 26th minute after Sonibia Devi’s attempt was saved by Myanmar goalkeeper Thu Zar Aung, but the rebound fell perfectly for Sulanjana to send it home with all the time in the world.
India doubled the lead seven minutes from a counter-attack when Sibani Devi raced from the right to square the ball for Pooja to tap the ball in.
Ya Min Phyu managed to pull one back for Myanmar in the 75th minute from a free-kick – a momentary lapse by Indian custodian Anisha Oraon contributed to the goal to some extent.
The Young Tigresses started the game on a positive note. The Indian girls looked strong from the beginning as the attacking trio of Menaka Devi, Sulanjana Raul and Pooja combined well to wreak havoc in the rival area and open the defence time and again. That Myanmar conceded two goals in a span of seven minutes spoke volumes about the dominance of the young tigresses.
Later in the second half, Head Coach Priya PV made some changes as Shivani Toppo was brought in place of Sonibia Devi and Remi Thokchom was brought in place of Sulanjana, respectively.
A visibly delighted Priya said after the match: “It was really a good game, and my girls played extremely well. I am very happy for them.”
She, however, made her intention clear of playing an attacking brand of football in Round 2 to be played in September. “Our tactics will remain the same. We will continue to play attacking football. But we will sit down and make plans for the Round 2,” she said.
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