THE INDIAN WOMEN'S TEAM CONTINUED their winning run in the Olympic Qualifiers with a dominant 3-1 victory over Nepal.
The Blue Tigresses beat Nepal weeks earlier in the SAFF Women's Championship final, but the stakes on this match were arguably higher than that match; with Maymol Rocky's warriors vying for a single spot available in their group to progress to the third round.
India took the lead early, just about 5 minutes into the game, when Sangita's pass reached Sanju who made one of her patented swift runs with it, cutting into the box and shooting for the target. The ball took a deflection off a defender and found the net.
But Nepal equalized almost immediately. Sabitra, the most prominent striker in the Nepal team, got the ball at scoring range. Sensing she would be closed off by Indian defenders she passed the ball to Niru Thapa who duly scored. It was 1-1 just 7 minutes into the net.
The game settled into a shaky balance where a back and forth of attacks ensued between the two teams. Sanju got a chance to put India ahead before the half hour mark but only managed to hit the woodwork. The score remained level at half-time.
But once the match resumed, in a fashion that's typical of this Indian team, the Blue Tigresses came out guns blazing, doubling the intensity of attacks. Dalima Chibber was especially bothersome for the Nepal defence, leading the breach attempts and almost getting through a couple of times.
The goal finally came at the hour mark. It was a corner, which was delivered by Dalima Chibber straight into the Nepal goalmouth. Sandhiya leaped up to head the ball into the net. India had re-taken the lead.
The intensity of attacks from India did not cease as they pushed for an insurance goal to seal the match. They got it just before the 80 minute mark when Sandhiya was fouled by the Nepal keeper in the box. Ashalata Devi took the spot kick and calmly converted.
You can watch the entire match right here, courtesy Eleven Broadcasting...
This win puts India well on their path with six points from two matches. But since Myanmar beat Indonesia 6-0 in their second match and sealed a better goal difference, it will be a do or die battle when India take on Myanmar on 9th April. Only a win will let India progress to the third round of Olympic Qualifiers, while a draw will be a good enough result for Myanmar.
Myanmar had beaten India at the Hero Gold Cup earlier this year so the Blue Tigers have their task cut out; they are about take part in another revenge match.