The Indian senior women’s football team was defeated by Tunisia 1-0 in a friendly match played at the UAE FA Stadium in Dubai on Monday.
The Indian eves started the game on the front foot with the first opportunity coming in as early as the second minute. Dalima Chibber’s cross was met by Manisha but her attempt was swept away by the Tunisian goalkeeper Mariem. Six minutes later, Tunisia surged into the lead as Heuij scored from a free-kick.
India launched a barrage of attacks in their effort to restore parity. In the 11th minute, Manisha ran down the left flank and sent in a cross but the Tunisian defence was on hand to deal with the threat.
India had plenty of opportunities through set pieces, but couldn't convert any of them. In the 31st minute, Manisha’s free-kick missed the target and nine minutes later it was Dalima's shot that sailed wide.
In the 42nd minute, Indumathi found quite a bit of open space in front of her, and she did take a crack at goal. But it couldn't find the target, as Tunisia managed to hold on to their early lead till half-time.
Changing over, Head Coach Thomas Dennerby brought in goalkeeper Shreya Hooda to replace Aditi Chauhan under the bar. Immediately after, India earned a corner but even as Soumya played it to Dalima, the latter’s effort sailed over.
Dennerby went for a double substitution in the 53rd minute – Ritu Rani and Pyari Xaxa coming in for Ashalata Devi and Renu respectively, as Indumathi took over the captain’s armband. Pyari almost made an instant impact off a corner, but Pyari’s header went wide.
India thought they had brought the game on level terms after Pyari managed to nod it home off the next corner, but the referee disallowed it and blew for a foul against India.
Tunisia were holding on to their lead but given the space in the offence, they managed to pull off a counter attack which almost paid off. The Indian goalkeeper, however, was on hand to deny the opponent their second goal with an excellent reflex save.
Dennerby brought in another substitution in the 68th minute – this time Indumathi making way for Sandhiya in midfield. Six minutes later Sandhiya manoeuvred herself into some open space and did manage to take a snapshot but Mariem saw it off. And if that wasn’t enough, Mariem also denied Pyari in the 75th minute after the nippy forward managed to sneak in between the rival defence.
The Indian Women’s Team had earlier beaten UAE 4-1 in their last friendly match in Dubai, with Manisha Kalyan, Pyari Xaxa, Sweety Devi and Anju Tamang scoring one goal apiece.
The team will now travel to Bahrain where they will be playing against Bahrain and Chinese Taipei. The matches are part of India’s preparation for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022, and the first exposure tour under Head Coach Thomas Dennerby.
Featured photo: AIFF