India beat Nepal to make U-15 SAFF final

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Thimpu, Aug 16 (IANS) The Indian U-15 womens team progressed to the final of the SAFF U-15 Championship after defeating Nepal 2-1 in the semi-finals at the Changlimithang Stadium here on Thursday.

Lynda Kom’s 31st minute strike followed by Kritina Devi’s 58th minute goal led the Indian Women to a hard fought win over a determined Nepalese side, after the opponents had found the net in 37th minute through Rajani Thokar.

The Indians had the chance to take the lead in the first minute itself but Avika Singh’s shot crept inches past the goal. Nepal recuperated after the nervy start and despite focusing on counter-attacks to test the Indian defence, could not give the U-15 Women a scare.

In the 25th minute, Avika Singh had another opportunity to give India the lead but this time her shot rattled the bar and went out after Shilky Devi had found her in the box with some crafty play. A minute later, Sunita Munda hit the Nepal sidenetting as India upped the ante.

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The breakthrough came in the 31st minute when Lynda Kom was found inside the box by a cross from Sunita Munda and Kom slotted the ball home with sheer acumen to give the Indian Women a solitary goal lead.

However in the 37th minute, Nepal equalized their deficit when goalkeeper Manish made a howler of a routine save and Rajani Thokar latched on to find the net for the opponents as the scoreline read 1-1.

In the 55th minute, Lynda Kom was once again provided with an opportunity to find the net, but this time, an onrushing custodian saved her shot. Three minutes later, Kritina Devi chipped the Nepalese custodian from distance and found the back of the net to give India the lead as the scoreline read 2-1.

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Sunita Munda’s speed down the middle of the pitch proved to be threat for the Nepalese defence line and in the 66th minute, she found Shilky Devi, whose shot was saved by the opposition custodian.

Although Nepal attacked with numbers in the dying embers of the match, the Indian Women committed bodies in defence and matched blow to blow. The full-time scoreline read 2-1 as India defeated Nepal in the semi-finals.

The final is slated for Saturday and India will face the winners of the second semi-final clash between hosts Bhutan and Bangladesh.

–IANS

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