AFC Asian Cup 2022: Spirited Iran thwarts India to share spoils

Players in action during the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 Group A match between India and Iran at D.Y. Patil Stadium on Thursday.

Players in action during the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 Group A match between India and Iran at D.Y. Patil Stadium on Thursday.

The Indian players sitting in the dugout waited with bated breath as Manisha Kalyan advanced on the left-wing and put in a cross for Pyari Xaxa. The striker made an attempt, but toe-poked the ball just wide of the post.

It was 52nd minute into the game and India had the perfect opportunity to take a lead against Iran. But missed chances cost the home team dearly as it was held to a goalless draw in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup opener at the DY Patil Stadium on Thursday evening.

India maintained dominance, had better ball possession and also created several opportunities, but the efforts were not enough as the team failed to put the ball in the net.

While it controlled the tempo of the match in the second half, the Indian team was clearly caught unawares by Iran’s technical ability and the direct approach in the first half.

However, there were a couple of opportunities that came India’s way in the opening 45 minutes. After the half-hour mark, an unmarked Manisha fired her header over the bar from close range, while three minutes later, Pyari took aim from the edge of the box and miscued her shot. The ball bounced forward and Indumathi ran in, but she blazed it wide and high. And with these misses, India went into the break, clearly under pressure.

It seemed the coach Thomas Dennerby’s pep talk helped as the home team put up a disciplined show in the second half, coming up with a wave of attacks. The body language of the players indicated that they were desperate for a win, but eventually, the team could not break down the Iran defence.

Substitute Grace Dangmei had the best chance to give India the edge in the 77th minute, but her close-range header was stunningly saved by Iran goalie Zohreh Koudaei. The Indian team had a few more chances thereafter, but it could not convert any of them and had to be content with a draw.

Their hair neatly tucked inside the hijab, the Iranian team, which qualified for the first time, stood out on the pitch against a better-ranked India. While goalie Koudaei turned all heads with her heroics, forward Negin Zandi, too, played a significant role in maintaining the pressure on the opponent.

Even though a goal eluded them, the Iran players left the pitch with a smile and a lot of satisfaction.

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Printable version | May 28, 2022 10:30:57 pm |