Bangladesh, India storm into semi-finalsKhatun’s hat-trick inspires Bangladesh to a 6-0 rout of Pakistan. India humiliate the Maldives 9-0 after Anju Tamang nets four.
Inspired by a hat-trick from captain Sabina Khatun, Bangladesh thumped Pakistan 6-0 while defending champions India registered a crushing 9-0 win over the Maldives as both the winners entered semi-finals from group ‘A’ in the sixth SAFF Women’s Championship at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwar on Saturday.
The last group match scheduled between Bangladesh and India on Tuesday will decide the group winners while Pakistan and the Maldives—both winless—crashed out with a match in hand and will vie in the dead rubber on the same day.
Bangladesh and India have equal six points in the four-team group with two wins each. Bangladesh had defeated the Maldives, and India had edged Pakistan, both with identical 3-0 scores in their opening games.
Bangladesh, one of the tournament favourites and playing with almost the same squad since 2014, took the match under control from the onset with a well-coordinated and swift exchange of passes. They kept Pakistan—who were marking a comeback to international football after eight years due to FIFA suspension—defenders busy throughout the game.
Apart from captain Khatun, Monika Chakma, Mosammat Shopna and substitute Ritu Porna Chakma were on target for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh were on the score sheet as early as in the third minute through Monika Chakma. The midfielder unleashed a scorcher from the edge of the area capitalising on a defensive error from a Pakistan defender moments after Pakistan had produced a threatening move.
Captain Khatun squandered a scoring opportunity nine minutes later firing above the bar from close range with only Pakistan custodian SM Shahid Bukhari on her way. Shopna doubled the advantage in the 28th minute with a flash of brilliance as she dribbled past two Pakistan defenders and slotted a low ball sliding past goalie Bukhari after being set by Khatun.
Khatun made it 3-0 in the 31st beating goalie Bukhari fed by Maria Manda. The captain netted her second individual goal four minutes later controlling a low cross from Sanjida Akhter and skillfully beat Bukhari.
In the 58th minute, Khatun completed her hat-trick, her second in the SAFF Championship after scoring five goals in a 6-0 win against Afghanistan in 2016. The all-time highest scorer for Bangladesh, named most valuable player of the tournament, also took her international tally to 29 goals.
Substitute Ritu Chakma, who replaced Srimoti Krishna Rani Sarkar at the start of the second half, sealed the victory with a stunning 25-yard strike.
Labelling Bangladesh as one of the strongest teams of the Championship, Pakistan coach Adeell Mirza Rizki said: “We are a young team playing at the international stage after a long time. We came into the match knowing that Bangladesh were better than India. But give us some time and we will come as stronger side.”
Bangladesh coach Golam Robbani Choton, who has been looking after the team for more than a decade, said that his side was gradually improving. “The girls played excellently and we achieved our goals in the crucial match for semi-final entry,” said Choton.
In the late fixture, India made the breakthrough in the 24th minute through Tamang before Priyanka Naorem doubled the advantage three minutes before the half time. India went into the break with a 3-0 lead as Tamang added her second in the first half stoppage time.
India added six more in the second half with four of them coming in the last six minutes. Grace Dangmei struck twice in the 53rd and 87th minute. Tamang completed her hat-trick in the 85th and netted her fourth individual goal in the 88th. Soumya Guguloth hit the target in the 55th and Kashmina in the 84th.
The next game of the Championship scheduled for Monday will see Nepal in action against Sri Lanka. Bhutan have already secured their spot in the semifinals from group ‘B’.