The success of Women’s Football is high on the Federation’s list of priorities, and as per the objectives in Vision 2047, we have begun the process of maximising the International windows in order for our players to play more competitive matches. The-aiff.com is present with the U-20 Women’s National Team in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to follow the upcoming stars of Indian Women's Football in their SAFF U-20 Women's Championship campaign.
AIFF Media Team
DHAKA, BANGLADESH: The sparse crowd at the Mostafa Kamal Stadium on Friday afternoon was quiet during the first half an hour. As both India and Bhutan were mostly sparring in a midfield battle in the SAFF U-20 Women’s Championship opener, the interest level was dwindling – as gauged from the reactions of the people in the stands.
But things changed rather dramatically thereafter. As the Indian girls began attacking the rival citadel with some delightful moves and scored four goals before half-time and eight more in the next 45 minutes for a 12-0 victory, the local crowd got more involved and even started cheering Maymol Rocky’s wards.
Well, the spectators surely had a lot to applaud about – 12 goals in a match, three hat-tricks, all three coming from the boots of three substitutes: Anita Kumari, Neha and Lynda Kom. Nitu scored one goal, while Apurna scored the first two.
"It was a great day. In the first match of any tournament, one is always a little nervous. We could overcome that today," Neha told www.the-aiff.com after the game.
Neha, who hails from Haryana, scored her first goal and hat-trick for the country. The livewire of the team down the left wing, Neha was elated and said, "It is always an honour to score for the country, and these goals being my first for the National team, have made me really happy. It was a good game, but we have to perform better in our next one.
"I tried hard in training, and today when I scored three, I knew how proud my parents would be. I had missed some chances, but it’s time to work on those areas and score goals against Bangladesh too," the 16-year-old added.
Anita Kumari, whose mother is a labourer, comes from Ranchi, Jharkhand. She has worked hard to deserve the National team selection and played in the SAFF U-19 Women's Championship last year in Jamshedpur. She scored once against Nepal in that tournament, but her hat-trick against Bhutan on Friday was special.
"I couldn’t believe I could score a hat trick on the first day itself. It is all teamwork that helped us manage such a huge win. After playing against the USA, Brazil and Morocco in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, our confidence was higher, which is why we performed better.
"But this is not the end of the story. We have to maintain consistency in our next two games and win the final," Anita said.
Striker Lynda Kom, who also scored three goals against Bhutan, said she was confident of scoring goals if given a chance. Lynda came on as a substitute in the 59th minute and found the net inside two minutes, followed by two more in the 63rd and 75th.
"I knew from the beginning that I would score goals if I got a chance to play today. I believed in myself, and I did it. I am very happy to contribute to my team’s cause; it’s nothing without them. We played a good game," said Lynda, who is also known as Biju among her teammates.
Coach Maymol Rocky sounded extremely happy with the result. "We were prepared, and it was all about playing good football. We were expected to win, but not with this margin, perhaps. The girls went all out with their game and played excellently. Yes, I am definitely happy about individual performances.
"Any coach will be delighted to see their girls score hat-tricks in a match, and three girls doing so makes me feel great. But again, it is all about teamwork," Maymol concluded.