The Indian women’s team picked up its third win on the trot in the ongoing South Asian Games 2019 as head coach Maymol Rocky’s side got the better of hosts Nepal with a 1-0 victory. Bala Devi scored the only goal of the game in the 18th minute at the Pokhara Stadium on Saturday, December 7 as India claimed the top spot in the round-robin stage.
The action was played in front of a buoyant partisan home crowd in Pokhara but it was India who got the better of the early exchanges and almost took the lead in the 10th minute through Ratanbala Devi, whose shot from close range was off-target after some great work from Dangmei Grace down the right flank.
However, just eight minutes later, Bala put the Indian side in front with a headed goal — successfully converting a corner from Grace.
Almost immediately, the hosts threatened to score but Aditi Chauhan stood tall in goal for India, making a fine save from a shot from inside the penalty area.
Bala Devi almost made it two for her side in the 41st minute but her shot in a one-on-one situation was saved by the Nepal keeper. On the rebound, Sandhiya Ranganathan’s follow-up was wide of the mark as the Indian side headed into the breather with the lead.
The second half saw Nepal push for the all-important equalizer but the Indian defenders were up to the task and were determined to make it three clean sheets in a row. The home side looked to threaten from set-piece positions. However, the backline led by Ashalata Devi remained rock-solid and closed out the game comfortably.
The result means that the Indian side, who are the defending champions, continue their perfect run in the South Asian Games 2019 so far after registering 5-0 and 6-0 wins over Maldives and Sri Lanka respectively in the last two games.
The gold medal match will be played between India and Nepal on Monday (December 9, 2019) at the same venue, with kick-off scheduled for 12.45pm IST (1pm local time).
INDIA WOMEN: Aditi Chauhan – Jabamani Tudu (Daya Devi 84′), Sweety Devi, Ashalata Devi (C), Roja Devi, Sangita Basfore, Ratanbala Devi, Sandhiya R (Manisha 69′), Dangmei Grace, Ranjana Chanu, Bala Devi (Anju Tamang 90+2′)