SAFF Women Championship: India claim fifth successive title

India claimed their fifth successive title in SAFF Women’s Championship with a hard-fought 3-1 win over hosts Nepal in the final of the fifth edition at the Sahid Rangashala, Biratnagar on Friday, March 22, 2019.

Dalima Chhibber, Grace Dangmei and Anju Tamang struck for India while Sabitra Bhandari pulled one goal back for Nepal, who have now lost to the same opponents in four finals they made in the tournament.

Chhibber put India 1-0 ahead in 26th minute, scoring from a stunning free-kick reminiscent of Brazilian Ronaldinho’s famous free-kick against England from 30 yards out in 2002 World Cup quarter-final.

India were awarded the free-kick after Hira Kumari fouled Dangmei in Nepal’s half and Chhibber beat goalkeeper Anjila Tumbapo Subba, who was slightly ahead of goal-line, in spectacular fashion on the right corner of the post.

This was the first goal Nepal conceded in the tournament and seven minutes later it was India’s turn to receive their first goal when Bhandari equalised for the hosts heading home a long ball.

With the first half ending 1-1, India upped the ante after the break and took the lead in the 63rd minute through Dangmei, who collected a pass from Sandhiya Ranganathan and raced into the box to round the goalkeeper off before making a cool finish.

Substitute Tamang put the deceive blow on Nepal striking in the 78th minute after a cross from Sajnu from the left side was redirected to her from the edge of the box.

Nepal’s efforts for coming back into the game went in vain as India, who defeated Bangladesh 4-0 in the first semi-final after 6-0 and 5-0 win over Maldives and Sri Lanka respectively in the group phase, left the field as deserved winners.