Pakistan women make emotional comeback at SAFFPakistan, playing their first major tournament since 2014, suffer a 3-0 defeat against India in their opening game of the SAFF Women’s Championship.
Pakistan women football team made an emotional comeback to international football after eight years vying against India in the sixth SAFF Women’s Championship at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwar on Tuesday.
Pakistan, though lost the match against defending champions and South Asian giants India 3-0, the outcome mattered less than the return of the country’s football at international stage.
Pakistan, who faced two bans from international football governing body FIFA for around eight years owing to infighting at the Pakistan Football Federation, were playing their first international tournament after the ban was lifted on July 1. The men’s team, however, were allowed to play in the 2018 Asian Games and SAFF Championships.
Captain Maira Jamila Khan hugged her teammates with ‘tears of joy’ despite the defeat against archrivals India. “Today we showed the world what Pakistani women’s football has to offer,” said Pakistan captain Maria Jamila Khan. “It is about representing the country and it's about honour. It is a privilege for all women of the team to represent the team. The whole team is emotional and every player of the team is a fighter which you saw today of the women of the team.”
The Pakistan women’s team played their last tournament during the 2014 Championship in Islamabad where they crashed out of the group stage.
Pakistan’s coach Adeel Mirza Rizki was equally satisfied with his side’s performance. “They have done a good job returning to international football after eight years. I am super proud of them. The idea is to grow from here and develop football in the country,” said Rizki.
Not just the Pakistani side participated in the tournament to show their presence at international stage, but also threatened giants India on a couple of occasions.
“We were playing against tough opponents that are ranked inside the top 50,” said Rizki referring to India’s 58th ranking in world football.
India, the winners of all previous five editions, were dominant throughout the match and kept Pakistan defenders busy. They got the breakthrough in the 21st minute after captain Jamil Khan turned the ball inside her own net.
Midfielder Dangmei Grace, adjudged the most valuable player, added another two minutes later before India sealed the victory with a stoppage time goal through Soumya Gaguloth as India extended their unbeaten run to 27 matches in the Championship.
Unmarked Grace netted second goal after she collected Anju Tamang’s pass and fired it at the near post as India went into the break with a 2-0 lead.
Forward Guguloth, the 65th minute replacement of Renu, sealed the victory with a smart finish tapping in Ranjana Chanu from the close range stunning Pakistani defenders and goalie Shahid Bukhari.
India coach Suren Kumar Chhetri said that playing the first match is always tough. “We won the game 3-0 and that is what matters for us and the team. Scoring three goals is the positive side of the team. However, there are areas we need to improve and come back stronger,” said Chhetri.
India will play their next match of Group ‘A’ against Maldives on Saturday
Khatun double gives Bangladesh 3-0 win over Maldives
Captain Sabina Khatun struck twice for Bangladesh in the late fixture of the Group ‘A’ as they saw off Maldives 3-0 at the same venue.
Bangladesh struck all three goals inside 10 minutes in the first half with Masura Pravin also getting on the scoresheet.
Bangladesh dominated the game from the onset but were made to wait for more than half an hour to break the deadlock. Forward Khatun made the breakthrough in the 32 minutes unleashing a 35-yard strike after being fed by Sanjida Akhtar.
Pravin doubled the advantage two minutes later, capitalising on a poor defending of Maldives players. Khatun made it 3-0 after a second successive strike after she collected a ball blocked by goalie Aminath Leeza that fell in the way of Khatun.
Bangladesh will play their next game against Pakistan on Saturday.
The next match of the Championship will see Bhutan vying against Sri Lanka on Friday.