NAVI MUMBAI: Incredible scenes engulfed the Father Agnel Sports Complex in Navi Mumbai on Sunday (January, 20) as the Indian Women created history. They defeated the mighty Netherlands Under-23 Academy side in the second of the two International Friendlies by a solitary goal.
As the match neared the final whistle, the 4,000 odd crowd started dancing to the tunes of Chak De India, yelling their lungs out “India India…”. The players in return rushed to acknowledge them as soon as the whistle echoed thrice!
Ashalata Devi scored the early goal which eventually was the difference between the two sides. Sans their key midfielder Supriya Routray and playing on artificial turf which they don’t too often, the SAFF Cup Champions beat all the odds to master the 14th ranked Dutch team, and level the two-match Friendly, 1-1.
An elated Barua said post match: “This is historic. Who would have given us a chance before the two matches against the Dutch. But we did it. My girls did it. This is fantastic. The result will be a big boost for Women’s football in India. This is path-breaking.”
“The girls were superb. We played beter actually today compared to the other day. In the second half we controlled thye game for most parts. But credit goes to the Indian girls they did not allow us to score. They were defending sharply and were really impressive. I think they should play more of such matches. They can do very well. They are above their Rankings,” Dutch coach Maria van Kortenhof admitted after the match.
The Indians were pressing from the word go. By not allowing their fancied opponents time on the ball, the women in blue garnered quite a few attacks of which Parmeshwari Devi’s 6th minute header almost got them the lead. But their effort paid off soon. Ashalata Devi’s diagonal header off D.Grace’s flag kick nested into the back of the net. The 4,000 odd vociferous crowds inside the Father Agnel Sports Complex erupted in joy.
Trailing by a goal, frustration was starting to creep in for the visitors. Chelly Drost and Lucie Akkerman got themselves booked in the process. The Indians now sat deep and guarded their citadel. The intention was clear. Soon the heat got the better of the Dutch and they called on for the drinks break.
In the dying minutes of the first half, Annebel ten Broeke – one of the goalscorers in the first Friendly – came close to equalising but captain Romi Devi was there to make an excellent interception.
Changing sides, the Dutch pressed the accelerator from the beginning using to height advantage to wriggle past the Indian back four. But it was the eves’ resolute defending that helped the scoreline remain the same.
The back-four comprising of Tuli Goon, Romi Devi, Ashalata Devi and Suprava Samal were on their toes throughout the second half marking the Dutch with great efficiency. There were tactical changes in the 65th minute when attacking midfielder Swati Rawat was replaced by a holding medio Manisha Panna, and Subhaprava Rout made way for stopper Lochna Munda three minutes later.
Ashalata Devi was awarded the Man of the Match award.
India Women 1 (Ashalata Devi – 15th)
The Netherlands Women 0Published 20 Jan 2013, 19:05 IST