The India U-19 Women’s Team began their SAFF U19 Championship campaign with a 10-0 victory against Bhutan at the BSSSMK Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Friday, February 2, 2024.
Pooja and Sibani Devi led the team, with the former scoring four goals and the latter netting a first-half hat-trick. Meanwhile, Sulanjana Raul and substitutes Menaka Lourembam and Arina Devi added three more to extend India’s tally into double figures.
India began the match brilliantly and showed attacking intent right from the start. Bhutan looked to overload the middle with more bodies in their efforts to halt the Indian attacks. However, the Young Tigresses had enough space on the flanks to exploit Bhutan.
Neha helped earn the early lead for India. The second goal came in almost a similar fashion. A good cross by Neha and Sibani extended the lead. The Bhutan goalkeeper Pema Yangzom made a huge error, and Puja put it into the empty net.
Captain Nitu Linda then produced a defense-splitting through ball that sent Sibani behind the Bhutan defence, beating the offside trap. Sibani chipped it over the Bhutan keeper to complete her hat-trick in the 36th minute.
The Young Tigresses began the second half with the same intent and Neha created the first goal of the second half. She beat her marker and fires through the left flank, and sent the ball towards Sulanjanawho headed it in for the fifth goal for India.
Pooja soon completed her hat-trick with two quick goals, which came because of defensive errors by Bhutan, and added one more in injury time to take her tally to four goals. Substitutes Menaka Lourembam and Arina Devi added two more to take India’s tally to 10 goals.
India will face Bangladesh on Sunday, February 4. The match will be started at 6.30 pm IST and the match will be streamed live on the Sportzworkz YouTube channel.
India U-19s: Anika Devi (GK), Nitu Linda (c), Sonibia Devi, Sahena Th, Thoibisana Chanu, Viksit Bara, Pooja, Lalita Boypai (Menaka Lourembam 46’), Sulanjana Raul (Arina Devi 62’), Neha, Sibani Devi.