Four-time champions India punctured Bangladesh's dream of making history in the SAFF Women's Championship by handing last edition's runners-up a clinical 4-0 defeat in the second semifinal of the fifth edition at the Sahid Rangashala in Biratnagar yesterday.
India will now play Friday's final against hosts Nepal, who also stormed into the final with an 4-0 win over Sri Lanka in the first semifinal at the same venue. Qualifying for the final meant India are the lone country to have qualified for all five finals and they are set to face Nepal for the fourth time in the title decider.
Bangladesh promised to fight tooth and nail in a bid to reach the final but it was India who showed their character and prove why they are the superior side. They overcame the initial pressure from Bangladesh, who chose to play attacking football against a mature side that had never lost a single one of the 22 matches they played the SAFF Women's Championship.
Bangladesh's attacking approach backfired as India scored their second and third goals through counterattacks as the Bangladeshi backline -- marshalled by Akhit Khatun, Masura Parvin, Shamsunnahar and Sheuli Azim -- was vulnerable to the extent of being unable of matching the pace of the speedy Indian attackers, who brilliantly exchanged the ball in the attacking third.
Although Bangladesh got off to a good start and had the better of ball possession in the first 15 minutes, the lack of composure to hold the ball in the attacking third meant that they could never threaten India. These group of girls had once entertained the nation with their dazzling performances at age-level tournaments but yesterday they looked out of their depths in senior-level competition.
Forward Sirat Jahan Swapna had the speed upfront but lacked skills to cause problems against the champions, who allowed Bangladesh to come into their own half and then launched counterattacks by releasing the long ball behind Bangladesh's backline. As Bangladeshi defenders came up to make a defence line near the central line, India got enough space behind the backline and simply destroyed the opponents with Sanju Yadav causing problems from the left flank time and again while Santiga Basfore and Ratanbala Devi had a strong foothold in midfield.
India went ahead in the 18th minute after goalkeeper Rupna Chakma lost her grip on a corner kick and Dalima Chhiber opened the account with a close-range drive. The young ladies in red and green were expected to bounce back but could really not reply to the youthful Indians, conceding one goal after another.
Having survived a scare, India instantly launched a counterattack to put a long ball to the left flank from the right side and Sanju brilliantly beat her marker Sheuli Azim to enter the box before feeding Indumathi Kathiresan to double the lead in the 22nd minute.
Sanju and Ratanbala Devi then came close to widening the margin twice before Indumathi made it 2-0 in the 36th minute from another counter attack while Bangladeshi goalkeeper Rupna made a couple of good saves.
Bangladesh's best chance to pull one goal back came in the 82nd minute but substitute Marzia failed to beat Indian goalkeeper Aditi Chouhan. Bangladesh then conceded the fourth goal in stoppage time, with substitute striker Manisha scoring from a goal-mouth melee.