The Indian women’s football team went down a stunning late free-kick from Uzbekistan’s Maftuna Shoyimova as the hosts claimed a hard-fought 1-0 victory in an international friendly in Olmaliq, Uzbekistan.
India rode their luck in the first half as Uzbekistan struck the woodwork twice but produced a much-improved display in the second half. However, a moment of magic in the dying minutes meant that Maymol Rocky’s side had to accept defeat in the first of the two friendly games in Uzbekistan.
The home side started on the front foot and it needed a brilliant save from goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan from point-blank range to deny the hosts an early lead.
However, the visitors settled down after an early spell of possession and began seeing more of the ball after the 20-minute mark.
In the 24th minute, Manisha let one fly from distance and she wasn’t too far from the target as the ball sailed just inches over the crossbar. But she would have been better off trying to find a teammate that was in acres of space on the edge of the box than go for glory.
Six minutes later, Uzbekistan hit the angle of the goal after some neat work inside the Indian box. In the 41st minute, India enjoyed another slice of luck as Uzbekistan rattled the crossbar after India made a mess of a cross from the right side.
Rocky’s team ensured the game remained goalless at the break after surviving a couple of scares in the first half.
India appeared much more confident in the second half on the ball and grew into the game as the half progressed. Dangmei Grace then had a golden chance to give the visitors the lead when she was slipped in behind the Uzbek defence. But the rather tame effort on goal was saved as the chance went begging.
In the 81st minute, Grace was again in a great position to score but her teammate who did well to win the ball back high up the pitch couldn’t square it to Grace.
India looked the stronger team as the full-time whistle approached but Shoyimova made the difference in the game with a long-range free-kick that went in off the upright.
Despite the six stoppage-time minutes, India didn’t have enough time to strike back.
Coach Rocky would be pleased with the performance of his team against a side that are ranked 12 places above them in the Fifa rankings.
India now play Belarus in their second friendly game in Uzbekistan on Thursday.