Chonburi (Thailand): The Indian women’s football team slumped to a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Nepal in the AFC U-19 Championships qualifiers here on Friday. Striker Rekha scored both the goals for Nepal in the 59th and 88th minutes to give her side three points from the match. The result put a dent in India’s chances of qualifying for the next round, as they are now level on three points with Nepal and Thailand.
The match had a cagey beginning, as both the sides looked to find their feet. India’s first chance came through captain Jabamani Tudu, who rose above the Nepal defenders to meet a cross from Manisha, but her effort was blocked by the defenders. However, the Indians slowly clawed their way into the game, and got their first real chance when Renu broke away from the defence and found herself one-on-one with the keeper.
However, her first touch was poor and Nepal goalkeeper Anjana came out to collect it. India had another great chance in the 30-minute mark, when Jabamani played out a short free kick from the right flank towards Roja at the near post, but the winger miscued her shot and the Nepal defence was able to clear it. Ten minutes later, Nepal had two golden chances as Rekha broke away twice in quick succession. She found herself one-on-one with the Indian keeper on both occasions, Archana made two fine saves to keep her out.
Nepal came out with great guns in the second half and constantly posed threat on the Indian goal. The Indian midfielders often found it difficult to get their game going, as they were swiftly closed down by their Nepal counterparts. In the end, it was a clearance from the half-line by the Nepalese defence that found Rekha, who beat the Indian offside trap, unmarked and she slotted it past the keeper. India tried frantically to get back on level terms, but some dogged defending by Nepal kept them at bay.
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