SAG: Indian eves bank on their strikers ahead of final clash

Struggling to find the back of the net, with goalless draws against Maldives and Nepal, India downed Bangladesh in a must-win game with a clinical performance. India would hope to script a similar performance in the final.

Kamala Devi (right) played well in India's previous game against Bangladesh.   -  M. Moorthy

India will be banking on its strikers to turn things around when it takes on Nepal in the women’s football final of the 12th South Asian Games at the Nehru Stadium here on Monday.

Struggling to find the back of the net, with goalless draws against Maldives and Nepal, India downed Bangladesh in a must-win game with a clinical performance. India would hope to script a similar performance in the final.

Meanwhile, Nepal is brimming with confidence, having collected 10 points from four matches in the league to India’s eight from the same number of matches.

Undoubtedly, Nepal has been the best team in the league. With a robust defence led by Dipa Adhikari and a sprightly forward line, it has fought hard.

Even in the league match against India, which ended in a goalless draw, it had as many chances as the host. With Sabitra Bhandari being the star of the forward line, and Anu Lama firing on all cylinders, the Indian defence would have a tough time stopping the duo.

Forwards Kamala Devi and Bala Devi combined well in the last league match against Bangladesh and the defence, too, withstood the rival’s raids pretty well in the second session. One of host's key forwards, Dangmei Grace, who didn’t play in the last match due to an injury, should be fit for the final.

Finishing was the main issue with India in the matches against Maldives and Nepal. And India's chief coach Sajid Yousuf Dhar admitted as much and said a lot of thinking has gone into it. “We did train on Sunday with that in mind. The team is positive and confident,” he said.

Dhruba Bahadur, Nepal's head coach, was optimistic ahead of the final. “We are not under pressure. We have never won against India. We will play with full freedom,” he said.

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