Indian women begin South Asian Games title defence with 5-0 thumping of Maldives

Defending champion India women's football team began its South Asian Games 2019 title defence with a commanding 5-0 win over Maldives on Tuesday.

Bala Devi struck a brace while Dangmei Grace, Manisha and Jabamani Tudu scored a goal apiece to hand the Indian women's football team all three points against Maldives.   -  AIFF MEDIA

The Indian women's football team got its South Asian Games 2019 campaign off to a winning start as it sealed a thumping 5-0 win over the Maldives on Tuesday.

Bala Devi struck a brace, while Dangmei Grace, Manisha and Jabamani Tudu scored a goal apiece to hand the team three points at the Pokhara Stadium in Nepal.

It only took five minutes for coach Maymol Rocky's side to take the lead through Grace, who rifled in a shot from the right flank. Bala Devi, who returned last week from a trial with Scottish club Rangers WFC, scored twice in quick succession to put India in a commanding position.

In the 25th minute, she latched on to a pass from Jabamani from the left flank to score and eight minutes later she converted Manisha's cross with ease.

India went into the break with a three goal lead and ten minutes into the second half, Aditi Chauhan and Bala were replaced by Panthoi Chanu and Anju Tamang respectively.

The defending champion ended the game on a high with two goals in two minutes in the closing moments of the game. Manisha powered home a goal with skipper Ashalata Devi providing the assist in the 87th minute and just a minute later, Jabamani added the fifth as she headed the ball past the keeper from Manisha's lofted pass.

The win puts India on the top of the points table with host Nepal grabbing a 1-0 win over Sri Lanka in the opening match of the day.

India will next face Sri Lanka on Thursday at 9.45am.

Starting XI: Aditi Chauhan (GK), Jabamani Tudu, Sweety Devi, Ashalata Devi (C), Roja Devi, Sangita Basfore, Bala Devi, Ratanbala Devi, Ranjana Chanu, Dangmei Grace, Sandhiya Ranganathan

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