India women got off to a rollicking start in the SAFF Championships, thrashing Afghanistan 5-1 in their tournament opener at the Kanchenjunga Stadium at Siliguri on Tuesday.
The game was done and dusted with the Indians racing to a 4-0 lead at the stroke of half-time. Afghanistan put up a resolute display but India’s early blitz assured them three points. Kamala Devi scored twice. Dangmei Grace, Sasmita Malik and substitute Sanju also got on the scoresheet. Afghanistan pulled one back in the second half through Muhtaz Farkhunda.
India were guilty of missing a host of chances, thumping the crossbar thrice. Bala Devi also missed a penalty in the first half. It took all of three minutes for Kamala Devi to break the deadlock in the contest. Malik doubled her side’s lead from the penalty spot close to the half-hour mark.
Kamala Devi eased past the Afghan defence to bag her second, and came close to completing the hat-trick on atleast two occasions in the first half. Grace’s calm finish gave India a 4-0 lead going into the break.
India’s continued to fire away in the second half and Indumathi Kathiresan and Kamala Devi struck the bar with their efforts. Against the run of play, Farkunda got a goal. Sanju added more dynamism to India’s game after her introduction and slammed the fifth, latching on to a Kamala Devi pass.
India’s next match is against the third team in Group B, Bangladesh on 31st December. A win there would confirm their entry in to the semi-finals.
India 5 (Kamala Devi x 2, Dangmei Grace, Sasmita Malik, Sanju) beat Afghanistan 1 (Muhtaz Farkhunda)