Late goal sinks India against Uzbekistan in women’s football friendly

India conceded in the dying minutes of the match after resisting the higher-ranked Uzbekistan valiantly for over 85 minutes.

By Utathya Nag

The Indian women’s football team slumped to a 1-0 loss against Uzbekistan in their international friendly match played at the AGMK Stadium in Almalyk on Monday.

The Indian eves, captained for the first time by Indumathi Kathiresan, put on a brave front for 87 minutes before being undone by a cracker of a free-kick from Uzbekistan’s Maftuna Shoyimova.

Despite the loss, it was a commendable showing by Maymol Rocky’s India side, who are ranked world No. 53. Uzbekistan are placed 41st in the FIFA Rankings and were playing on home turf.

The hosts made a lively start and Indian goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan was called into action early to avert a dangerous position from inside the six-yard box.

As the match progressed, the Uzbek players enjoyed more possession while the Indian eves looked for quick counter-attacking opportunities aided by the pacey forward trio of Pyari Xaxa, Manisha and Soumya Guguloth.

Aditi Chauhan, meanwhile, continued to impress as she saved a long ranger and bravely came out to pluck the ball from one of the Uzbek strikers’ feet mid-way through the first half.

The Blue Tigresses, however, enjoyed very little joy in the opposition third. Their first attempt on goal took almost 25 minutes but Manisha’s shot from 40 yards out sailed over the crossbar.

India coach Maymol Rocky tried to shake things up, bringing on Daya Devi in place of Pyari.

The change added more urgency to India’s game temporarily. Manisha’s cross from the left flank found Dangmei Grace in space at the far post but the midfielder’s attempt was blocked by Uzbek defenders.

The hosts responded by hitting the woodwork twice. Diyorakhon Khabibullaeva hit the post with a stinging shot around the half-hour mark before Umida Zoirova’s header came out after hitting the underside of the crossbar minutes before the half-time whistle.

India were lucky to go into the break level at 0-0.

Uzbekistan started strong after the restart too but the Indian defence led by Sweety Devi weathered the onslaught to keep the scores on level terms.

Amid the hosts’ dominance, Manisha had a good opening. Space opened up for the Indian striker on the edge of the Uzbekistan box but her shot lacked the power to beat the Uzbek goalkeeper.

In the 75th minute, India’s biggest chance of the match fell to Dangmei Grace. The Manipuri broke through Uzbekistan’s defensive line and found herself one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Grace tried to place it past Laylo Tilovova but the Uzbek captain got a finger to the Indian’s shot at goal.

In the dying minutes, Uzbekistan made India pay for the missed chance. India conceded a soft free kick just outside the penalty box and Maftuna Shoyimova stepped up. Uzbekistan’s No. 11 sent a lovely curling shot past a diving Aditi Chauhan to finally break the deadlock.

India worked hard to restore parity but ran out of time.

India play Belarus in their second friendly match in Uzbekistan on Thursday.

Lead photo: AIFF


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