Indian women’s football team beats Hong Kong 2-0 in Asian Cup qualifier

Goals by Sasmita Malik (68’) and Ratanbala Devi (70’) led the ‘Women in Blue’ to their first win in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers.

The Indian team might not have made the cut for the Asian Cup but can be proud of the way it finished the tournament.   -  AIFF Media

The Indian women’s football team won 2-0 against Hong Kong in its last match of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers at the Kim II Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on Tuesday.

Goals by Sasmita Malik (68’) and Ratanbala Devi (70’) led the ‘Women in Blue’ to their first win in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers, in a clash largely dominated, both in possession and in chances created, by the Indian Women.

READ: Sasmita Malik — winging her way to glory

The Indian women dominated the early minutes of the match, maintaining their shape in defence, whilst being fluid in attack. In the 5th minute, India had a golden opportunity to take the lead but Bala Devi failed to guide the ball home after Ratanbala found her from the flanks.

The speed of Dangemi Grace proved to be handful for the Hong Kong defence line and in the 10th minute she sped past the opponent defender from the right wing, but managed to fluff her shot close to the goal.

With India upping the ante, Hong Kong soaked the pressure and took their time to get into the groove of the match. Panthoi was forced to make a couple of easy saves to keep out the Hong Kong attacks.

The best chance of the first half came just before the half-time. Bala Devi, beating her defender in the first touch, controlled a delicious cross. However, her shot failed to match the finesse and went over the bar. The half-time scoreline read 0-0.

The Indian Women continued to pile the pressure on the Hong Kong defence, after the second half kicked-off. Two back-to-back chances for the ‘Women in Blue’ heaped even more tension on the Hong Kong defence. First, in the 46th minute, the Hong Kong keeper saved Premi Devi’s shot from distance. A minute later, Indumathi’s effort was kept out.

In the 60th minute, Sasmita Malik cut in from the left flank, but her right footed shot went whiskers over the bar as India looked to take the lead.

The breakthrough came eight minutes later in the form of a penalty kick after Ratanbala was brought down in the box. Sasmita Malik converted from the spot to give India the lead as the scoreline read 1-0.

In the 70th minute, Ratanbala Devi doubled India’s lead after Indumathi’s shot ricocheted in her stride, only for her to blast it home.

The Indian women pressed to add more gloss to the scoreline, but could not finish their chances, even after fostering at will. Meanwhile, the Indian defence, compact in shape, contained the Hong Kong attack, and saw out the match as the full-time scoreline read 2-0.

India starting XI against Hong Kong: Panthoi Chanu (GK); Umapati Devi, Ashalata Devi, Manisha Panna, Dalima Chhibber (90 + 2' - Sweety Devi); Premi Devi, Indumathi Kathiresan, Ratanbala Devi, Bala Devi (C), Dangmei Grace (90 + 1' - Ngoubi Devi), Anju Tamang (38’ – Sasmita Malik).

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