SAFF U-19 Women's C'ship: India determined to dictate terms in Nepal narrative

February 5, 2024
In a football match, certainty remains vague until the final whistle, a truth vividly proved in Sunday's clash against Bangladesh

Dhaka, Feb 5 (IANS) In a football match, certainty remains vague until the final whistle, a truth vividly proved in Sunday’s clash against Bangladesh. India, in a twist of fate, conceded a late injury-time goal, departing the field empty handed. Despite the Young Tigresses delivering a strong performance against the hosts, the match appeared destined for a draw. However, fate had other plans, and in the closing moments, Bangladesh emerged successful once again over India. After the match, tears filled the eyes of the Indian girls, exposing the strong emotions evoked by the result.

“We entered the match with confidence, expecting a victory, but a minor error cost us the game. Despite a number of attempts on goal, our own mistakes stopped us from capitalising on those opportunities. While our defence was solid, our focus remained on attacking,” said Neha as quoted by AIFF website.

“Our strategy was to leverage our strengths, but unfortunately, we fell short. Bangladesh proved to be faster, and we knew they had a lot of speed, and regardless of my effort in the first half, my shot from the left turned into a low strike, missing the goal. Although we executed good crosses, they went unconverted,” she added

Despite the let down, girls were mindful of the upcoming test against Nepal on Tuesday at the BSSSMK Stadium.

In the previous SAFF U19 Women’s Championship 2019, India secured a victory over Nepal with a solitary goal before advancing to face Bangladesh in the final. A similar scenario will unfold if India secure either a draw or a win against Nepal on Tuesday.

Head coach Sukla Dutta is aware of the situation and said: “My mindset has always been geared towards winning, whether in coaching or in my playing career. Currently, I am not thinking about point calculations or goal differences. I have stressed this to my players as well and told them the importance of focussing on winning tomorrow to secure a spot in the final.”

When asked about yesterday’s performance, the coach said: “Bangladesh showed a never-give-up attitude and resilience, maintaining a compact team structure and adopting a defensive approach. Our unexpected attacking strategy caught them off guard, resulting in our attempts on goal, which unfortunately did now go well as per my plan.”

Coach Sukla also has a fine knowledge of her opponents and their style of play. “Having observed Nepal’s gameplay, I have identified their strengths and weaknesses, and I have formulated a plan accordingly. Improving ball positioning and scoring ability is crucial. I did not get the support of a ball holder in yesterday’s match, which I will need tomorrow.

Nepal tend to play defensively to obstruct the opponents’ goals, and our strategy will involve breaking through their defensive stance and engaging in 1v1 scenarios, and that is exactly what I am going to practice at the training this evening. It will be on my attacking strategies, ball positioning, and how to handle 1v1 situations,” Sukla mentioned.

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