The Indian women’s football team held off a superior side in Uzbekistan for long but in the 87th minute, a direct free kick goal from Maftuna Shoyimova became their undoing as they fell to a 1-0 loss on Monday at the ‘AGMK’, Almalyk city, Tashkent. Uzbekistan were also extremely lucky early on in the match as they hit the post thrice and lacked the finishing touch a number of times, which helped India survive. India had a few chances of their own, most of them coming in the second half where India showed much better play and character than the first.
In the first half, India were mostly outplayed by a technically-superior Uzbekistan. In the fourth minute of the match itself, Aditi Chauhan had to come up with a save from point-blank range when Uzbekistan were able to work the ball extremely well in India’s half.
In the 24th minute, however, Manisha spotted the Uzbekistan keeper off the line and unleashed a superb shot from distance but it went just over the crossbar.
In the last 10-15 minutes of the first half, India were completely on defence as Uzbekistan tricked around and found ways to work around India. India also struggled to break through and get going. India were unable to execute the counter-attacking football, which was the only way they could hope to find the goal.
However, Uzbekistan could not finish their numerous chances and it remained goalless at half time.
The second half started much more lively for India as the players pushed higher up and were able to execute good press on the Uzbekistan players. The coming on of Sandhiya Ranganathan in the 57th minute proved to be a huge difference maker as the Tamil Nadu girl was quick on the flanks and opened up a lot more options for the team. The overall understanding between Sandhiya, Sangita Basfore, Dangmei Grace, Soumya Guguloth and Manisha also looked much better.
In the 66th minute, India had a brilliant chance when Grace put in a stunning curved through ball for Manisha but the Punjab girl could not connect well with the ball under pressure.
In the 70th minute, Manisha worked the ball well and tried to pass to Grace but her pass was a bit too heavy. Five minutes later, Grace made her way into the box and forced a brilliant save from the Uzbekistan keeper and got a corner. Off that Anju Tamang corner, India got a shot on target but it was saved on the line.
After much attack and defence, India were unlucky to concede from a precise and brilliantly taken free kick.
India next play Belarus on April 8 at 3.30PM IST.
Starting XI: Aditi (GK), Ngangbam Sweety Devi, Wangkhem Linthoingambi Devi, Sorokhaibam Ranjana Chanu, Anju Tamang, Indumathi Kathiresan (C), Sangita Basfore, Dangmei Grace, Manisha, Soumya Guguloth, Pyari Xaxa
Subs that came on: Jabamani Tudu, Karishma Shirvoikar, Sandhiya, Heigrujam Daya Devi