With only three teams placed in Group A, Bhutan reached the semi final of the ongoing South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) under 15 women’s championship despite losing 0-1 to India at Changlingmithang in Thimphu yesterday.
Bhutan’s one win, against Sri Lanka and one loss, against India in the group stage helped the Dragon girls finish second in the group to win a spot in the semi finals.
The loss came after the Bhutanese recorded their biggest win on August 11 against Sri Lanka. However, the glory was short lived as the team went one down in the second game against India yesterday.
India’s skipper, Shilky Devi, scored the only goal of the match in the 57th minute to give her team a lead in the second half. Miscommunication between the defender and the goalkeeper inside the 16-yard box helped Shilky Devi dribble past the goalie to break the deadlock.
Despite entering the game with the least number of players in the squad, the game saw both the teams sharing equal chances and also controlled the game equally in the first half.
Bhutan’s coach, Sung Jea Lee, said that the team played a physically strong and one of the best teams in SAFF. “We did not have enough recovery time and India had three days to recover physically after playing Sri Lanka. Our team lacked match experience.”
However, the coach said that the team performed well and will be prepared for the next match. “We did not go for substitution today because we did not have enough players. This was the challenge of the team,” said the coach.
With the win over the host team, India will play Nepal, the runners up of Group B on August 16. Bhutan will play Bangladesh, the winners of Group B on the same day.
India’s coach, Firmin D’Souza, said the team played as per the plan and performed well. “However, the result did not reflect the same. But we are ready to face any challenges ahead of us. Our team was in good form today.”
He said that India is not taking any of the teams lightly. “Bhutan just proved that they couldn’t be taken lightly. They gave their hearts out in the play. But we got our job done.”
Bhutan played twice against India in two years. The previous meeting between the two teams was in Bangladesh where the Bhutanese were defeated 3-0. Including the 1-0 loss at home yesterday, Bhutan has now suffered two consecutive losses against the Indians in two years.
Meanwhile, of the total 18 players on the team, Bhutan’s coach said only 15 of them are ready to play. This according to coach is a disadvantage for the team in a big competition.
Except for the Maldives six countries- Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are taking part in the championship.
The championship ends on August 18.