The Indian women’s football went down to Tunisia by one goal in their second friendly match played at the UAE FA Stadium in Dubai on Monday. They had got their first win of the year and first under new coach Thomas Dennerby beating United Arab Emirates on Saturday.
Tunisia are ranked 77th in the FIFA charts while India are at 57th.
India had their first chance as early as the second minute but even as Manisha tried to flick in Dalima Chibber’s cross, rival goalkeeper Mariem managed to keep it at bay. 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 rival defence managed to clear it. Soon after, another cross from Sanju was collected by Mariem.
India 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 apiece.
But against Tunisia, it was a series of misses for India.
Some ten minutes later, Indumathi tried to place it in from outside the penalty box, but it missed the target. In the 31st minute, Manisha’s free-kick also missed and in the 40th minute, another free-kick – this time from Dalima sailed wide.
In the 42nd minute, Indumathi, one of the leaders in the midfield 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 the 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 after Soumya managed to find her. But Pyari’s header went wide.
However, Pyari did manage to nod it home off the next corner which India earned, but the referee disallowed it and blew for a foul against India.
Dennerby went in for another double substitution in the 61st minute – Martina and Sumati replacing Sanju and Manisha.
Tunisia who were holding on to it till then, launched a counter attack in the 63rd minute and it could have helped them double the lead had Shreya not managed to pull off a reflex save.
Dennerby brought in another substitution in the 68th minute – this time Indumathi making way for Sandhiya in midfield. Six minutes later Sandhiya maneuvered herself into some open space and did manage to take a snapshot but Mariem saw it off. Mariem also denied Pyari in the 75th minute after the nippy forward managed to sneak in between the rival defence.
The contingent 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 Dennerby, under whom the squad had trained in Jamshedpur for a month.
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