India and Bangladesh have been announced as co-champions in the SAFF U19 Women’s Championship

India and Bangladesh emerge as joint champions in SAFF U19 Women’s Championship 2024

India and Bangladesh emerged as joint champions in the SAFF U19 Women’s Championship held at the BSSSMK Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Thursday, February 8, 2024. In a tightly contested match, India took the lead early on through Sibani Devi Nongmeikapam’s goal, but Sagorika’s injury-time equalizer for the hosts forced the game into penalties. The ensuing penalty shootout saw every player from both teams successfully convert their spot-kicks, resulting in an unprecedented 11-11 deadlock.

With the stalemate unbroken, the referee resorted to a coin toss to determine the eventual winners. Initially awarded to India, the decision was later overturned. Following a prolonged delay of over two hours, it was ultimately decided to share the trophy between the two teams. This triumph marks India’s fourth age-group title in the history of women’s SAFF competitions and their first on Bangladeshi soil.

India Dominates Bhutan in SAFF U19 Championship Opener
The India U-19 Women’s Team showcased utter dominance in their SAFF U-19 Women’s Championship debut, thrashing Bhutan 10-0 at the BSSSMK Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Friday. Pooja and Sibani Devi stole the spotlight, with Pooja netting four goals and Sibani Devi securing a first-half hat-trick. Additionally, striker Sulanjana Raul and substitutes Menaka Lourembam and Arina Devi contributed three more goals to India’s impressive tally. Goalkeeper Anika Devi and substitute Arina Devi made their junior international debuts in the match against Bhutan.

India asserted their dominance from the onset, seeking to outscore their opponents. Despite Bhutan’s attempts to congest the midfield, India capitalized on the space on the flanks, with Neha proving particularly relentless down the left. Neha’s efforts led to India’s early opener, with Sibani Devi converting her cross into a goal. In the second half, Neha once again played a pivotal role, assisting Sulanjana in scoring India’s first goal after the break.

Pooja then completed her hat-trick with two quick goals, capitalizing on defensive errors, before adding another in injury time to secure her fourth goal of the match. Substitutes Menaka Lourembam and Arina Devi chipped in with two more goals, sealing India’s commanding 10-0 victory.

India Suffers Defeat against Bangladesh in the Second-Matchday of SAFF U-19 Championship
In their second round-robin match of the SAFF U19 Women’s Championship at the BSSSMK Stadium on Sunday, February 4, 2024, the India U19 Women’s team suffered a frustrating 0-1 defeat against hosts and defending champions Bangladesh. Conceding a goal in the dying minutes proved costly for India, leaving them vulnerable in the tournament.

Despite India’s valiant efforts, Bangladesh secured victory with a goal in injury time, scored by striker Sagorika following a long ball from skipper Afeida Khandaker. Sagorika, who had previously netted two goals against Bhutan, proved to be a constant threat to the Indian defense throughout the match.

Bangladesh’s strategic use of Sagorika, orchestrated by coach Saiful Bari Titu, played a crucial role in their triumph. Despite facing strong opposition, Bangladesh benefited from enthusiastic support from home fans, who turned out in numbers to cheer their team. India showcased resilience and attacking intent from the outset, with Pooja’s menacing runs down the left flank posing a constant threat to the Bangladesh defense. However, despite several promising opportunities, India failed to capitalize on their chances, including a momentary advantage in the 80th minute.

India Comfortably Defeats Nepal and Secures a Spot in the Final
India clinched a berth in the SAFF U-19 Women’s Championship final after a commanding 4-0 win against Nepal in their last round-robin match at the BSSSMK Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Tuesday, February 6, 2024. Their victory sets up a showdown with hosts and defending champions Bangladesh in the final, scheduled for Thursday, February 8, 2024. Bangladesh had previously triumphed 10-0 against Bhutan but suffered a narrow 0-1 defeat against India.

After a goalless first half, India unleashed a dominant display in the second period, netting four goals. The Indian forward trio of Neha, Sibani Devi, and Sulanjana Raul wreaked havoc on the Nepalese defence, dictating the pace of the game. Winger Neha shone brightly, bagging a brace in the second half, while Sulanjana Raul and substitute Cindy Temruatpuii Colney contributed two late goals to seal India’s victory.

India began the match on the offensive, with Neha’s dynamic runs down the left flank causing problems for the Nepalese defense. Her crosses posed constant threats, forcing Nepal goalkeeper Lila Joshi into several fumbles. Despite a brief opportunity for Nepal’s Senu Pariyar, who failed to capitalize on a chance behind the Indian defense, India remained in control. The breakthrough came in the 54th minute when Sibani’s cross found Neha, who expertly slotted the ball home from a narrow angle.

Buoyed by the opening goal, India continued to press forward, with Pooja and Raul coming close to scoring. Neha’s determination paid off once more as she curled a magnificent shot into the top corner from outside the box. Raul finally found the back of the net in the 85th minute, capitalizing on a well-executed team move initiated by Neha’s cross. Substitute Cindy sealed the victory with a goal in injury time, ensuring a comprehensive win for India.

India and Bangladesh Declared Co-Champions of SAFF U-19 Women’s Championship Following Extended Drama in the Final
India and Bangladesh were declared co-champions of the SAFF U-19 Women’s Championship at the BSSSMK Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh. India initially took the lead through Sibani Devi Nongmeikapam’s goal, but Sagorika’s late equalizer for the hosts forced the match into penalties. In an intense shootout, every player converted their penalties, resulting in a deadlock at 11-11. A coin toss initially awarded victory to India, but the decision was later reversed. After a prolonged wait, the trophy was shared between the two teams, marking India’s fourth age-group title in women’s SAFF competition history and their first on Bangladeshi soil.

Although Bangladesh had more possession in the first half, it was India who displayed greater attacking prowess. The festive atmosphere in the stadium was palpable, with enthusiastic crowds supporting their respective teams. India’s lead came from a well-executed move initiated by captain Nitu Linda, who released Sibani behind the Bangladesh defense. Despite Sibani’s missed opportunity shortly after, India failed to maintain their lead and conceded an equalizer in injury time, mirroring Sagorika’s goal in the group stage match.

Throughout the match, Sulanjana Raul effectively played as a false nine, supplying Neha and Sibani with scoring opportunities. India’s compact defense limited Bangladesh’s chances, forcing them to attempt shots from distance. The shootout saw every Indian player, including goalkeeper Anika Devi Sharubam, successfully convert their penalties. Despite Anika’s efforts, Bangladesh matched India’s accuracy, resulting in a shared trophy.

In response to the situation, the AIFF Acting Secretary General, Mr. M Satyanarayan, highlighted the importance of prioritizing player security, leading to the decision to share the trophy amidst simmering tensions among the home fans.

Overall, the SAFF U19 Women’s Championship was an exciting and competitive tournament, showcasing the talent and determination of young women footballers from India and Bangladesh. The shared championship title is a testament to the skill and sportsmanship displayed by both teams throughout the competition. Congratulations to India and Bangladesh for their remarkable performances and joint triumph.

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