A spirited Bangladesh women's team are determined to continue their amazing form when they take on host India in their first ever South Asian Football Federation Women's Championship final at Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri, India on Wednesday at 6:30pm (Bangladesh standard time).
Prior to the ongoing tournament, Bangladesh had a poor record against India. Previously, they had never managed to beat their neighbour. They earned their first ever draw against the three-time winner in the group stage.
Despite outplaying Afghanistan 6-0 in their opening game, it was not an easy task against the home side who boast a hundred percent winning record in the previous three editions of the competition. Bangladesh broke the jinx by becoming the only team in south Asia to hold India when they played out a goalless draw on the last day of the year 2016.
Bangladesh's results against India in the three editions were 5-1 in 2014, 3-0 in 2012 and 6-0 in 2010. But the women in red and green have improved significantly in every game, both individually and as a team. In the semi-finals, they crushed Maldives 6-0 to reach the final of the tournament for the very first time in history.
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Bangladesh captain Sabina Khatun poses next to her Indian counterpart Bala Devi COURTESY
India may be the favourite in the grand finale but they would not go through their final opponent as comfortably as they did before. In the last three editions held in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan respectively, India and Nepal were the finalists on all the occasions with the former winning the final battles 1-0, 3-1 and 6-0.
“India women's team are undoubtedly the best team in south Asia but our girls are playing great football as well. Now our only target is to win the final with a positive performance,” said Bangladesh head coach Golam Rabbani Choton on Tuesday.
Bangladesh, who are now more confident after the under-16 girls’ unprecedented success in the Asian Football Confederation's U-16 Women’s Championship qualifiers in September last year, are showing fine combination between attack and defence.
They have the best defensive record in the tournament and are yet to concede a single goal.
Captain and star striker Sabina Khatun, who scored seven goals in only three matches besides providing two impressive assists in the last four, will guide her side upfront, along with semi-final hattrick heroine Sirat Jahan Shopna. Bangladesh followed a defensive strategy against India in the group stage where their goalkeeper and Sabina put up superb performances.