The Indian women’s football team entered the final of the 12th South Asian Games by defeating Bangladesh 5-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Saturday. The defending champions will on Monday face Nepal, for the second time in the Games finals.
In the 2010 edition of the South Asian Games held in Dhaka, the Indian women led by Oinam Bembem Devi had defeated Nepal 3-1.
But the in-form Nepalese women are determined to dethrone the defending champions, after winning all their league matches and after having a goalless draw against India.
"We are confident of defending the title," India’s coach Sajid Yousuf Dar said, reacting to Nepal’s confidence to emerge victorious.
"We have watched Nepal’s games and they have been playing well," he added.
Nepal’s assistant coach Kumar Katuwal had earlier told IANS that his team was confident of becoming the new champions after its brilliant performances on the ground.
Nepal, the runners-up in the last edition, are at the top of the table with 10 points followed by India with eight points.
"We are hoping to meet India in the final again as they are a much stronger side than Bangladesh. But the girls are prepared to face any of them, as the team morale is high and we are looking for a big win," Katuwal said.
India’s skipper Oinam Bembem Devi, who will be donning the blue jersey for the last time on Monday, also said the team was looking forward to face Nepal.
"We had dominated the game in our last match (12th South Asian Games league match) against them (Nepal) but they played a defensive game," Bembem told IANS.
Nepal had held India to a goalless draw in the league encounter on Thursday.
"We will make all efforts to defeat them and defend the title," Bembem said, while praising her teammates for taking India to the final after thrashing Bangladesh 5-1 in a do-or-die match for both nations.
In Saturday’s match, the Indian eves went to the field on an attacking mode and striker Kamala Devi put India in the lead in the 5th minute, collecting a rebound and smashing a low shot past Bangladesh custodian Mossamat Roshan Ara.
In the 9th minute, Ng. Bala Devi made two for India when she scored off a rebound, driving a left footer past the goalie.
The young Bangladeshi side, who are assured of a bronze, could have reduced the deficit in the 33rd minute through Sirat Jahan Shopna, but the striker’s shot found the crossbar.
India capitalised on yet another opportunity in the 37th minute when Bala Devi assisted Kamala Devi for a gentle tap in to hand India a 3-0 lead going into the break.
Eight minutes into the second half, India’s defender Ashalata Devi was replaced by Radharani Devi after an on-field collision with another player and was taken off on a stretcher.
However, it was in the 65th minute that Bangladesh found a goal through skipper Sabina Khatun’s header after a Bangladesh free kick to bring the game alive.
But the Indian side continued with their onslaught and found the fourth goal in the 70th minute after substitute Sanju made a long run down the right flank and moved into the box to produce a low shot past keeper Mossamat Ara.
Bangladesh’s woes did not end there, as Bala Devi scored her second goal and India’s fifth of the match from a close range.