TASHKENT, Apr 5: The Indian women’s football team slumped to a 0-1 defeat in its first friendly against Uzbekistan, courtesy a late strike by Maftuna Shoyimova, here on Monday.
While both sides created ample scoring opportunities, Uzbekistan found the back of the net with a late free-kick by Shoyimova in the 87th minute to grab the bragging rights.
As the Uzbeks started off on a higher tempo in near-freezing conditions, India keeper Aditi Chauhan was called into action early on, as she did well to get down and grab a low cross from point-blank range.
India looked to hit the hosts on the counter in the early exchanges, with defender Ranjana Chanu combining with midfielder Sangita Basfore to create an opportunity down the left, but the danger was eventually averted by the Uzbek defence.
The Indian defence staved off the early Uzbek attacks, inspired by Sweety Devi, who did well to deal with the continuous aerial threat by the hosts.
In the dying minutes of the first half, Uzbekistan launched another attack that saw Nilufar Kudratova hit the crossbar, before the ball was cleared from inside a melee of legs, as the referee soon brought an end to proceedings.
Daya Devi, who replaced Pyari Xaxa, looked lively in the opening exchanges of the second half, as she pressed high up on the pitch, to force an error from the Uzbekistan defence, with the help of Soumya Guguloth.
The former looked to play it into the path of an onrushing Dangmei Grace, but it was intercepted.
Around 10 minutes into the second half, Manisha combined well with Ranjana Chanu to work the ball up the pitch down the left flank. The young attacker found a channel to Daya, who turned her marker inside the box and crossed it in.
However, the ball evaded all the attackers and defenders, and the danger was soon averted.
In the 65th minute, India broke on the counter as Sangita Basfore won the ball in India’s defensive third.
Under pressure, she managed to poke it onto the path of Dangmei Grace, who carried it into the attacking half, and curled an aerial through ball into the path of Manisha, who slipped through between two defenders.
The attacker queued up her shot, but it lacked power and the opposition keeper managed to gather the ball.
The hosts found the back of the net with just three minutes of regulation time left on the clock, when Maftuna Shoyimova slotted a free-kick from around 25 yards out, into the top corner.
The Indian team will take on Belarus in the second friendly on Thursday. (PTI)