The Indian women’s team has successfully defended its SAFF Women’s Championship for the fifth time in a row by defeating Nepal by 3-1 in their backyard at at the Sahid Rangashala Stadium in Biratnagar. The win extends India’s unbeaten run in the tournament’s history to 23 games. Dalima Chhibber opened the scoring for India in the first half while Grace Dangmei and substitute Anju Tamang netted in the second half. Sabitra Bhandari got the equaliser for Nepal in the first half.
The pace of the match was quite high from the beginning with the host nation pushing hard. Nepal almost took the lead in the 10th minute when it put the ball in the back of the net but the goal was flagged offside. India scored in the 26th minute when Dangmei Grace won a free-kick after she was fouled about 40 yards from the goal. Dalima Chibber took the ball and sailed it into the left top corner. In the semifinal against Bangladesh, it was Chhibber who opened the scoring for India and this time around too, it was the right-back who gave India the advantage.
Ratanbala Devi could have added a second goal six minutes later but her shot from distance was saved by the Nepal goalie. In the 34th minute though, Sabitra Bhandari capitalised on a long ball and headed it from close range past Aditi Chauhan. It was the first goal India conceded in the tournament.
India started the second half on a strong note by creating the majority of the opportunities. In the 63rd minute India regained the lead. Sanju released Grace with a through ball and the 23-year-old turned the Nepal keeper, skipped away and slotted the ball home. In the 78th minute Indumathi Kathiresan headed the ball into the path of substitute Anju Tamang, who held off a weak challenge to extend the lead for India.