India maul Pakistan to enter SAFF Championship final
Pakistan’s run at the South Asian Football Federation Women’s Championship came to end on Monday, when they were handed a 8-0 mauling by traditional rivals India at the Cox’s Bazaar Zilla Stadium in Bangladesh.
Bala Devi scored a hat-trick, with goals in the 18th, 31st and 32nd minutes. The other goals were scored by Gayatri (26th and 39th), Sasmita Mallick (33rd), Amoolya (45th) and Manpreet Kaur (88th) to take India into the final.
The last time both teams met, at the South Asian Games in January, India eased to a 6-0 win.
India-Pakistan clashes in sports like cricket, kabaddi and hockey are traditionally close encounters, but both countries’ women’s football teams have a huge gulf in quality, leaving the first semi-final a forgone conclusion.
Pakistan won their first two matches of the tournament, beating Maldives 2-1 and Afghanistan 3-0, before they were thrashed by Nepal 12-0.
Pakistan coach Tariq Lutfi admitted India were strong opponents, but said he had not given up the hope of causing an upset.
“India was a strong team but we were focused to play our best football, we still have a lot to learn.”
Lutfi said the team was demoralised after the loss, which highlighted their defensive and frailties. He conceded India’s dominance over the match was due to their greater experience in international football.
“We are at the initial stages of international football while our opponents have been in the circuit for more than three decade.”
Meanwhile, his Indian counterpart, Shahid Jabbar rounded off his team’s preparations for the tournament with matches against the Indian men’s U-19 and boys’ U-16 teams.
The strong Indian sides are favourites to lift the title after having scored 31 goals in the tournament so far, while maintaining a clean sheet.
They will take on the winners of the Bangladesh-Nepal semi-final, which will be played on Tuesday.
The final of the inaugural SAFF Women’s Championship is scheduled for December 23.