If not for Ayomi Wijerathna’s heroics between the posts Sri Lanka would have conceded more after losing 5-0 at the hands of India, in the SAFF Women’s Championship 2019 group B encounter played at the Sahid Rangshala Stadium Biratnagar, Nepal.
Sri Lanka deservedly beat Maldives 2-0 with goals in each half by Chalani Ekanayake..
Sri Lanka and India had already booked their places in the semi finals as Maldives in the same group lost both matches. The game was to decide who will top the group and play Bangladesh in the semi final whereas the loser will play hosts Nepal.
India kicked off the game as favourites and lived upto the billing by going on the front foot immediately. In the 4th minute Sanju worked her way on the left and took a shot at goal. The ball hit the crossbar and went straight at Grace Dangmei who headed it home to give the lead to India.
Minutes later it was once again Sanju on the left wing who sent a delightful cross along the ground for Sandhiya Ranganathan to tap in from close range.
Sri Lanka did play when they got the ball and did manage to string several passes together. Ayomi Wijerathna in goal was excellent and saved several certain goals.
Indumathi Kathiresan scored the third for India after a defensive lapse where skipper Erandi Liyanage’s failed clearance came on to the path of Indumathi whose shot took a deflection to beat Ayomi.
Sangita Basfore was next to get her name on the scoring sheet after a penalty was awarded for handling the ball by Rushani Gunawardana. Sanju once again the creator getting the penalty.
Half Time – Sri Lanka 0 – 4 India
The second half started as the first finished with India scoring through Ratanbala Devi. A left footed effort from inside the box to the top right corner leaving Ayomi Wijerathna a spectator.
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Sri Lanka had no option but to go for damage limitation and in order to avoid a humiliating defeat. A heavy loss could be a blow for the confidence before the semi-final clash against Nepal. Only Erandi Liyanage stood up front as the rest were on defensive duty.
Sri Lanka did not look to play and were looking to clear the ball as far as they can. Kick and run approach by the Lankan girls did not work as the Indian defence played a high line and blocked any possible counter attack.
The bright spot for Sri Lanka was their goalkeeper who stood tall and the goals conceded were due to poor performance of players in front of her.
Full Time – Sri Lanka 0 – 5 India
India – Grace Dangmei 4’, Sandhiya Ranganathan 7’, Indumathi Katheresan 36’, Sangita Basfore 44’(P), Ratanbala Devi 47’