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Posted on : Thursday October 23, 2014

By Debayan Mukherjee,
AIFF Media Team


India 6 (Anushka Samuel – 20th, 67th, Sushmita Bardhan – 22nd, Eva Panna – 25th, Jabamani Tudu – 87th, Roja Devi – 88th)




Jordan 3 (Nour Mahmud – 11th, Jeeda Albaner – 53rd, Tasnim – 74th)


DHAKA: India’s Diwali was both sweet and sour as they breezed past Jordan in a freescoring 6-3 encounter but missed qualification by the skin of their teeth in their last Group B game of the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship China 2015 (Qualifiers) at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka on Thursday (October 23, 2014).


The girls in blue finished second in the group with nine points from four matches, three behind qualifiers Iran who topped the table with full 12 points from four matches. Needing to win in the last game and counting on Bangladesh to beat Iran, India stole a march over Jordan in a high-scoring match. Bangladesh in the next match went down 1-2 to Iran.


“I am happy with the way our girls responded to the challenge,” coach Maymol Rocky told reporters at the post match media interaction.


“We lost the first match but after that won three in great fashion. The girls showed a lot of character and we can take a lot of positives from this tournament,” she added.


Coming to the match, India Goalkeeper Shreya Hooda had a forgettable outing letting in all three goals which on another day she would have saved easily.


Jordan midfielder Nour Mahmud was the first one to benefit from her first and worst howler, beating Shreya at her neat post from a 30-yard free kick. India then scored three in the space of five minutes to wrest back the advantage through Anushka Samuel, Sushmita Bardhan and Eva Panna.


Jordan pegged back twice through Jeeda Albaner and Tasnim with Anushka grabbing her brace in between the two strikes. The girls in blue then pulled away with two late goals deep into the second half, this time courtesy Jabamani Tudu and Roja Devi to close on a high.


India thus finished second in group B with nine points from four matches.


Coach Maymol Rocky made two the team that belittled UAE 12-0, bringing in Anushka who scored four goals in the last match in place of Lifa Gama and replacing the injured Kashmina with Eva.


India were given a early jolt when goalkeeper Shreya Hooda failed to hold to an easy ball from a 30-yard freekick by Alanoud Alzabrey. The ball squirmed under her gloves at the near post.


From the next attack India almost equalised with Sushmita dragging her diagonal effort wide. The Bengal striker had a chance to make amends moments later from a Roja corner but this time she failed to connect to the looping flag kick.


Strike partner Anushka though lapped up her chance in the 20th minute. Premi Chiru – who had a brilliant match – robbed Jordan’s Leen Alabbadi in the middle of the park and exchanged passes with Sushmita with the latter setting up Anushka inside the area. The Delhi striker latched on to the pass firing low past goalkeeper Rand Albustanji at the far post.


Two minutes later Sushmita atoned for her misses with a fine chipped effort from the top of the box to give India the lead.


And after just three minutes, before Jordan could settle down from this sudden onslaught, India surged further ahead.


Eva Panna – playing her first match of the tournament – made the most of a poor clearance inside the box to head into an empty net with the goalkeeper out of her line.


Jordan had a chance to reduce the arrears in first half added time when Jeeda Albaner spooned her effort inches over.


Jordan’s No 13 though rectified soon after the restart, reducing the arrears albeit luckily when off-colour Shreya made a hash of Jeeda’s looping shot trying to collect the ball rather than opting for a safety first fist out.


Coach Rocky replaced Eva with Mansi Vakharia and moments later India extended their margin through Anushka who doubled her tally, taking down a Premi square pass beautifully to smash home on the half volley.


Sushmita made way for the fleet-footed Lifa Gama up front as India went for the kill. Jordan pegged one back after Shreya failed to smother a tame effort from Leen Al-Btoush.


Soon after Shreya was replaced by Linthoingambi Devi under the bar, with India riding a late flourish to add to more to their kitty and end the match and their campaign on a high. Jabamani scored her second of the competition while Roja netted her eighth.