Two free-kicks! One from Dangmei Grace from about 30 yards and another one from Sweety Devi from around 35 yards provided the perfect icing on the cake as India finished their engagements with a 3-1 victory over Lebanon in their last Group A match of the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship China 2015 Qualifiers at the Petra Stadium in Amman on Sunday (November 9). Courtesy the victory, India ended on 3 points from same number of matches.
Apart from the two free-kicks, Pyari Xaxa scored the other after India were down by an early Mariam Chehab goal.
For all the possession, domination, penetration for the entire 90 minutes, the India U-19 Women only managed to score thrice whereas it should have easily been many more, easily into double figures. Lebanon stayed content defending with 10-men, and at times even 11, depending on counter attacks. Mariam’s goal came of such a counter when they earned a corner, their lone in the match and that was the sole time action happened inside India’s 18-yard box.
Grace’s goal had grace all over it. Her powerful grounder hoodwinked all and entered the net for India’s equalizer in the 33rd minute. That apart, she played the perfect role in the hole, always staying the spare one, available for support.
In the 38th minute, her header off a Sweety Devi corner bounced off the post and even as Dalima Chibber headed it in, it was cleared off the line and eventually gathered by rival Goalkeeper Hiba Almokhi.
India were creating chances but unable to convert, the perfect example being Pyari Xaxa who all in the clear and only Hiba to beat blasted it over. That was Pyari’s second attempt in the three minutes as earlier with a sudden burst she had sped past Eliane Sfeir but failed to place it in with only Hiba to beat.
Changing over, there wasn’t any change in the script. Lebanon stayed content with defending with 10 Players in their own half. The first corner was earned in the 47th minute itself and Pyari’s header off Sweety’s corner agonisingly sailed past the post.
Pyari’s speed was creating all sorts of problems for the rival defence and with substitute Hemolata playing the perfect foil for Grace, India started to grow in confidence.
In the 76th minute, substitute Margaret Devi dribbled to enter the box but her placement missed by a whisker and the very next minute, Grace’s low cross drew Hiba out of position but first Pyari, and then Margaret mistimed their placements – the ball rolling over to the other side.
Another one went abegging in the 80th minute, this time Pyari and Grace failing to tap into an empty net after Margaret had done the spadework.
Nevertheless, Sweet ended it on a sweet note for India – her free-kick from 35 yards sailing over Hiba.
INDIA U-19 WOMEN’s NATIONAL TEAM LINE-UP
Panthoi; Lalduhawmi, Rachita, Dalima Chibber [C], Sweety Devi; Nikhila Thumbayil, Sangita (39′ Homolata Devi), Sanju (46′ Ranjana Chanu), Gangmei Grace, Pyari Xaxa, Menaka Malik (66′ Margaret Devi)
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)