India finally ended their winless streak in 2023 when they outplayed and outclassed the Kyrgyz Republic 5-0 in the first of the two-legged tie in Group G of the AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying Round 1 on Tuesday.
After failing to win any of their five international engagements in the first three months of the calendar year, Thomas Dennerby’s wards came up with a solid win.
The victory also strengthened India’s chances of moving on to the next round. They will hold a considerable advantage when the two teams meet again on Friday, April 7 in the second leg.
A brace from Anju Tamang, a clinical volley from Soumya Guguloth in the first half and goals from Shikly Devi and Renu in the second half were enough for the girls to secure an emphatic win.
The Blue Tigresses started the game brightly and did not waste any time as they took control of the match through Anju’s opener in the 6th minute. The opposition goalkeeper Abibulla saved the freekick by Dalima Chhibber, but Anju made no mistake to head home the rebound from close range.
A few minutes later, Soumya had the opportunity to double the lead, but she was flagged for being offside before she could connect on a Sandhiya Ranganathan cross. At the half-hour mark, Soumya missed another golden chance from Anju’s cross at the far post and missed the target by a whisker.
Before the hosts could settle into the game, Anju scored again to hand India a two-goal advantage over their opponents. She netted an easy finish from Soumya’s cross from the right wing.
Four minutes later, Soumya lashed home a stunning volley into the top corner of the net as India found themselves with a comfortable 3-0 lead at the break.
The Blue Tigresses looked unstoppable as they struck two more goals in the second half. In the 61st minute, Shilky scored the fourth as she smashed the ball into the bottom corner from Indumathi’s well-planned pass inside the box.
Dennerby made his first change as Sandhiya was replaced by Renu in the 62nd minute. Within a minute, substitute Renu fired in the fifth goal of the night off a Dalima free-kick. The rival custodian wasn’t able to take control of the ball and Renu took advantage of the situation as she found the back of the net.
The Swedish coach made a few more changes as Dangmei Grace came in place of Soumya, while Sangita Basfore and Karishma Shirvoikar were brought in place of Karthika Angamuthu and Anju, respectively.
The first attack from the opposition side came in the 83rd minute when they tried to breach the Indian defence, but skipper Ashalata Devi was at the right place to make a clearance.
With five minutes left for regulation time, Shilky Devi’s strike from 20 yards out was punched away by the keeper. The last change of the game was made in the 89th minute with Ritu Rani coming in place of Shilky Devi.