KARACHI: Pakistan went 0-3 down to holders India in their Group A opener of the 2022 SAFF Women’s Championship at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Wednesday.
Pakistan went into a 0-1 deficit because of an own goal when the ball went in after deflecting off the leg of skipper Maria Khan after keeper Mahpara failed to collect a drive cleanly in the 21st minute.
India, who have won all five previous editions, dominated the show but Pakistan not conceding more goals was creditable as they were playing in international circuit after a long gap of eight years.
India doubled their lead in the 23rd minute when Grace Dangmei superbly tapped the ball through a narrow gap between the post and the Pakistani goalkeeper.
At half time, India were leading 2-0. India kept tight check in the second half too but squandered a few chances. In the stoppage time, substitute Soumya Guguloth added to her team’s total with a fine field effort which helped the defending champions seal a comfortable 3-0 win.
Pakistan coach Adeel Rizki was happy with his team’s effort despite the loss. “We played after eight years and credit goes to the players who put in a fine effort. I am proud of the team and we can only grow from here,” Adeel told a post-match news conference.
Skipper Maria said Pakistan showed what their women’s football team has to offer after an eight-year drought.
Asked how they would tackle Bangladesh in their next game, Maria said they would not take any opponent lightly. “No team should be taken lightly in South Asia. We will go with the same effort. We will do our homework and try to play well against them,” Maria said.
Pakistan will face Bangladesh on September 10 before taking on the Maldives on September 13.
Former Pakistan senior men’s team assistant coach and Masha United women team coach Nasir Ismail also appreciated Pakistan team.
“I think the team did not play badly as it was playing after eight years,” Nasir told ‘The News’.
“India fielded their young team, mostly under-20 girls, and Pakistan played too defensively. In the beginning, Zulfia fed Nadia but she failed to strike; it was the only chance Pakistan got in the entire game,” Nasir said.
“Pakistan should have played a bit aggressively which would have unsettled India. They looked calm as they were not tested,” he said.
Meanwhile, India’s head coach Suren Chhetri showed satisfaction with the result. “The first match is always important and I am happy with the victory. We netted three goals. The midfield was very good. We have a few things to improve and we will do so before the match against the Maldives,” Suren said. India will face Maldives on September 10 and Bangladesh on September 13.