Football

SAG: Kamala Devi stars in India’s title triumph

PILING ON THE AGONY: India's Bala Devi (right) is delighted after scoring the third goal for the host. Photo. M. Moorthy

PILING ON THE AGONY: India's Bala Devi (right) is delighted after scoring the third goal for the host. Photo. M. Moorthy  

India’s Kamala Devi is just 23 years old. But, it looks like she has been around for quite a while. She has been part of the team in three editions of the SAFF championships, which India has triumphed in 2010, 12 & ’14.

Kamala found her touch in the crucial match by scoring a brace as the host scripted a convincing 4-0 win over Nepal in the women’s football final of the 12th South Asian Games, watched by a capacity crowd of 22,000 here on Monday.

Speed and control are Kamala’s forte. For some reason, she was unable to find the back of the net on several occasions in the league matches against Maldives and Nepal. But today, it was Kamala at her best. She started with a left foot in the 11th minute that sailed over the post.

And 20-odd minutes later, she struck. Bembem Devi, playing her last match for India, gave a perfect cross for the striker to place it home.

In a first half completely dominated by India with midfielder Premeshwori Devi making inroads on the right, the host had many opportunities.

Sasmita Malik, who played exceptionally well from the wings, troubled the four-woman Nepal defence in the second session with curling aerial crosses. Kamala and Bala Devi, on quite a few occasions, came close to converting from those crosses.

Bembem’s free kick resulted in India’s second goal. A poor clearance by the Nepal defence saw the ball going straight to Kamala, whose left-footer on the rise was on target.

Nepal forwards Anu Lama and Sabitra Bhandari tried their best but could hardly penetrate the Indian defence led astutely by Ashalata Devi.

It was Sasmita’s cross that did the trick as India scored its third goal. Her cross saw goalkeeper Lila Lamgede fumble and Bala Devi was quick to slot it in.

Ten minutes before the final whistle, Ashalata got into the act with a stinging right footer as India successfully defended the title.

India’s coach Sajid Yousuf Dhar thanked those who supported the team when it was not doing well.

“People supported us despite our poor performance early on. Against Nepal (and Maldives) in the league, we were not able to convert our chances.”

Sajid also praised Kamala for her superb performance. “She is the main striker for us and she came good at the right time.”

The result (final): India 4 (Kamala Devi 32, 56, Bala Devi 71, Ashlata Devi 80) bt Nepal 0.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 8:27:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/south-asian-games-kamala-devi-stars-in-indias-title-triumph/article8241390.ece

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