Sports Desk: A solitary second half strike by Sunita Munda helped the Indian U-15 women's national team down Bangladesh in the final of the SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) U-15 Championship at the floodlit Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu, Bhutan, on Saturday evening.
India coach Firmin D'Souza preferred to continue with the same XI that beat Nepal 2-1 in the semi-final on Thursday.
From a second minute free-kick that was a result of a foul on Lynda Kom, Avika Singh's effort came off the crossbar as India could have taken an early lead.
There on, a couple of Sunita's shots on target were kept out by Bangladesh goalkeeper Mahmuda. One of those was an attempt from afar in the 17th minute.
In the 24th minute, skipper Shilky Devi was stopped in her tracks while trying to use the flanks, and minutes later, Indian custodian Manisha was called into action in back-to-back attacks by the defending champions.
As the scoreline remained goalless through the first half, the Indians continued to build up pressure and won a number of setpieces but weren't able to make them count other than Avika forcing a save from Mahmuda on one occasion.
Substitute Priyanka Sujeesh made a vital interception against a Bangladesh move while Manisha too came off her line to avert the danger from another attack in the in the opening minutes of the second half.
Indian claims for penalty after Shilky was appeared to be brought down in the box were waved off by the referee in the 52nd minute.
However, that did not stop India from taking the lead in the 67th minute when Sunita found the back of the net a minute after her attempt from Avika's pass was defended out for a corner.
There was a nervous moment when a Bangladeshi effort came off the woodwork in the 76th minute, besides which India took control of the precedings wherein Shilky forced another save from Mahmuda in an attempt to double her side's lead in the 88th minute.
risingbd/Dhaka/August 18, 2018/A K Azad