Indian women’s football team had a narrow 1-2 loss to Belarus in their friendly match in Tashkent on Thursday. With the defeat, the side will return to India with two losses in the two-match Uzbekistan tour. The Indians went down 0-1 to the hosts in their opening match earlier this week.
However, results apart, the outings have brought out a lot of positives, and also given much-needed match practice for the women. The team was also without star player Bala Devi. With the All India Football Federation (AIFF) postponing the Indian Women’s League (IWL), the footballers have to now wait for other such friendlies to prepare well for the 2022 Asian Cup at home.
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On Thursday, a spotkick from Shuppo Nastassia and a goal from Pilipenka Hanna gave the European side a 2-0 lead in the second half before Sangita Basfore pulled one back deep in stoppage time for India.
Indians started well, unlike their opening match, and almost took the lead in the fifth minute when Soumya Guguloth’s effort hit the crossbar. The positive start, however, was short lived, and, as the half progressed, the Belarus players started exerting more influence on the game.
In the 17th minute, Ranjana was forced to make a goalmouth clearance to deny Belarus the lead. More last-ditch saves came -- including a brilliant block by Anju Tamang -- as Belarus started taking control of the proceedings. India, to their credit, defended well and though possession was with Belarus, chances never came that easily for the European side.
In the second half, India went on the offensive, leaving spaces behind that were promptly exploited by Belarus, who put the ball in the back of the net in the 50th minute, but was denied the goal due to a player being in an offside position.
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Belarus once again breached the Indian defence and won a penalty. India goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan did guess and dived the right way but could not stop the Nastassia shot in the 66th minute.
Chasing the equaliser, India were exposed to counters by Belarus who doubled the lead 10 minutes later when Hanna finished past Chauhan after connecting with a through ball.
India’s attempt to reduce the deficit didn’t bear fruit until the fourth minute of stoppage time when Sangita’s long-range attempt was spilled by the goalkeeper.
It was nothing more than a consolation as the referee blew the whistle for full time almost immediately after it.
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