India held by gritty IR Iran in AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 opener
Islamic Republic of Iran held India to a 0-0 draw in their AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022™ Group A clash at the D.Y. Patil Stadium on Thursday.
India had the better chances but determined defending by Iran kept the hosts at bay as both teams now set their sights on their Matchday Two ties.
Iran, making their first AFC Women’s Asian Cup appearance, found themselves on the backfoot as India started aggressively with their attacks coming from the flanks.
India had their first attempt on goal in the second minute as Nongmaithem Ratanbala Devi’s run down the left caught Iran by surprise but the midfielder’s effort was easily cleared by goalkeeper Zohreh Koudaei.
Iran found themselves under pressure again two minutes later when India’s Manisha Kalyan sent a delightful cross to Pyari Xaxa who, however, sent her header wide.
With India controlling the pace of the game, Maryam Irandoost’s side saw very little of the ball but they could have taken the lead against the run of play in the 12th minute from a set-piece.
Samaneh Chahkandi sent a delightful ball into the area for Negin Zandi, whose looping header beat India goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan, only to bounce off the crossbar.
India, however, continued to dominate but the South Asians missed several chances with Indumathi Kathiresan and Kalyan firing their efforts over the bar as the score remained 0-0 going into the break.
India continued to dictate the pace of the game after the restart with Kalyan Iran’s main tormentor when she sent a clever pass to Kathiresan who at full stretch missed the target by mere inches.
Thomas Dennerby’s side almost broke the deadlock just after the hour mark when Kathiresan made a darting run down the left after linking up well with Xaxa but her effort was undone when she slammed the ball into the side netting from close range.
Koudaei had to be on her toes a minute later when she denied Kathiresan from inside the box as Iran continued to hold out.
India were denied what looked like a sure goal in the 77th minute when substitute Manisha Panna sent a delightful cross to Dangmei Grace, whose header from close-range was denied by a one-handed save by Koudaei.
Dennerby’s India will be aiming to claim their first win when they face Chinese Taipei on Sunday, while Iran face eight-time champions China PR.
Featured photo: AIFF