Siliguri: India women’s football team on Tuesday began their SAFF Championship 2016 campaign in style as they routed Afghanistan 5-1 in a Group B opening match at the Kanchenjunga Stadium.
Kamala Devi opened scoring in the third minute even before the spectators could settle down. The early goal instilled more vigour into the Indian team to change the gear in their pursuit of more goals.
At the half-hour mark, the referee awarded a penalty in the favour of the hosts and ‘AIFF Women’s Player of the Year’ Sasmita Malik did not waste the chance to double the lead from the spot.
India netted the third goal three minutes later from a brilliant piece of individual skill from Kamala Devi. She sneaked past the opposition defender from the left, cut into the penalty box and whacked the back of the net, leaving the Afghan goalie stranded.
In the dying minutes of the first half, Grace joined the party to take the scoreline to 4-0.
After the changeover, it was a completely different Afghanistan outfit who came out of the dressing room and the game was not a one-way traffic anymore.
Afghanistan players tried to control the game from their half and started building attacks to break the Indian defiance.
Although the Indian defenders show their resilience to thwart the Afghani girls’ every effort, finally the deadlock was broken two minutes before the regulation time.
Muhtaz Farkhunda tapped it home to net their first goal of the tournament sending the Afghanistan dressing room into celebration.
Three minutes later, ‘AIFF Emerging Player of the Year’ Sanju completed the tally for the defending champions.
India will take on neighbours Bangladesh on December 31 while Afghanistan will meet Bangladesh in their must-win fixture on December 29.