Mandalay: Indian women’s national team failed to advance to the third round of AFC Olympic qualifiers after they drew 3-3 with Myanmar on Tuesday.
Due to Myanmar’s better goal difference, Myanmar advanced to the next round while India were left with the feeling of ‘so near, yet so far’.
It was a thrilling match with both teams giving their all but in the end, Myanmar had the last laugh. India fought hard and well but missed history by an inch.
The first half saw most of the ball possession with Myanmar even though India took the lead in the match. In the 9th minute of the match, Ratanbala made a perfectly weighted pass from the right wing towards Sandhiya in the middle.
Sandhiya timed her run to perfection and made no mistake in calmly slotting the goal home.
India’s lead was cancelled out in the 17th minute when Myanmar’s No.7 Win Theingi Tun found the back of the net. Myanmar had been piling all the pressure on India after trailing and they reaped benefits of the game.
India’s goalkeeper Linthoingambi Devi was the star even before Myanmar’s first goal and her many saves kept India in the game. In fact, India needed her heroic efforts throughout the match – her anticipation, danger averting was top notch.
Myanmar then took the lead in the 22nd minute after they were awarded a soft penalty.
Linthoi saved the penalty by diving to the right side but Tun scored on the rebound after though it looked like she had fouled Linthoi before scoring.
10 minutes later though, Myanmar’s horrendous defending gifted India the equaliser. There emerged utter confusion between the Myanmar defender and their keeper and Sandhiya chested the ball down towards Sanju, who slotted it home.
At half time, the scoreline read 2-2.
After the break, Myanmar maintained the pressure on India but the women did a fabulous job of holding on.
In the 64th minute, Grance somehow found Ratanbala in space and the latter slotted a delicious strike to find the back of the net.
In the 73rd minute though, Tun got her hat-trick to bring Myanmar level again.
India had a couple of chances to score after that, including a 77th minute opportunity when Sanju was one on one with the keeper but India failed to score another.
With Myanmar’s goal difference being +8 compared to India +4, Indian women had to bow out of the competition.