The Indian women’s football team went down by a solitary goal against Uzbekistan in their friendly at the AGMK, Almalyk City, Tashkent, on Monday. India held off Uzbekistan -- a much higher ranked and superior side -- for most part of the match, aided by luck. The goal came in the 87th minute via a freekick by Maftuna Shoyimova.
Uzbekistan struck the post thrice in the early part of the match and also failed to convert many chances. That kept India alive in the match though the play was largely controlled by the hosts. India did create a few good chances, in the second half mostly, where the players seemed much more cohesive in their attempt to take the fight to the hosts.
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In the first half, India were outplayed by Uzbekistan who were clearly superior technically. In the fourth minute, Indian custodian Aditi Chauhan had to come up with a save from point-blank range. Post that, the threat was constant as Uzbekistan were working the ball extremely well in India’s half, going forward almost at will.
In the 24th minute, against the run of play, Manisha attempted a long range shot after spotting the Uzbekistan ’keeper off the line. However, the ambitious shot went over the bar by a whisker.
In the last 10 minutes of the first half, India were completely on the backfoot, pushed on the defensive by the opposition. India, it was clear, were attempting to catch Uzbekistan on the counter. But to create openings for that seemed almost impossible.
Uzbekistan, on their part, could not finish the many chances they created.
The second half started livelier for India as the players pressed higher. Sandhiya Ranganathan, who came on in the 57th minute, proved to be a huge difference. Her runs on the flanks opened up options for the team. The overall understanding between Sandhiya, Sangita Basfore, Dangmei Grace, Soumya Guguloth and Manisha offered promise too.
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In the 66th minute, India had a brilliant chance when Grace put in a stunning curved through ball for Manisha who, under pressure, could not connect well.
In the 70th minute, Manisha worked the ball well and tried to pass to Grace but the touch was a bit heavy. Five minutes later, Grace made her way into the box and forced a brilliant save from the Uzbekistan ’keeper and won a corner. Off that Anju Tamang corner, India got a shot on target, saved eventually off the line.
India’s second and final friendly in Uzbekistan is against Belarus on April 8.
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