Indian women secure fourth SAFF championship and climb world rankings

By Samindra Kunti

January 5 – India have won a fourth consecutive SAFF Women’s Football Championship title with a dominant 3-1 win in the final against neighbors Bangladesh. 

In the 12th minute striker Dangmei Grace opened the scoring for the hosts. From that moment on India never looked like relinquishing the lead. Bangladesh had to open up and they equalised in the 40th minute through Sirat Jahan Shopna.

After the break, with Indian attacking, Sasmita Malik converted a penalty and Indumathi secured victory with a shot from long range. This had been the second time India met Bangladesh in the tournament after the two had crossed paths in the group stage as well, but that tie ended goalless. India thrashed Afghanistan 5-1 in their other group stage encounter and went on to beat Nepal 3-1 in the semi-finals.

The Indian Eves have gone 19 matches unbeaten, having won 18 and drawn one. The women’s team is currently ranked 54th in the world and 12th in Asia. Ivory Coast and Ecuador, who participated in the last Women’s World Cup, are ranked lower than India. The Indian men’s team, the Blue Tigers, are currently 135th on the FIFA ranking.

“We are working really hard and the All India Football Federation is also supporting us,” said India’s captain Ngangom Bala Devi. “We have the women’s I-League now, so things are looking good.”

Later this year the Indian Eves will take a shot at reaching the Asian Cup as the qualifiers for the continental tournament will get underway.

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