Indian women’s football team lost by the faintest of margins in their first friendly in Uzbekistan, as the hosts grabbed victory with a late goal at the AGMK Stadium, in Tashkent on Monday. While both sides created ample scoring opportunities, Uzbekistan found the back of the net with a late free-kick by Maftuna Shoyimova in the 87th minute, to win 1-0. As the Uzbeks started off on a higher tempo in near-freezing conditions, that is mostly unfamiliar to the away side, India keeper Aditi Chauhan was called into action early on, as she did well to get down and grab a low cross from point-blank range.
India looked to hit the hosts on the counter in the early exchanges, with defender Ranjana Chanu combining with midfielder Sangita Basfore to create an opportunity down the left, but the danger was eventually averted by the Uzbek defence.
The Indian defence staved off the early Uzbek attacks, inspired by Sweety Devi, who did well to deal with the continuous aerial threat by the hosts.
In the dying minutes of the first half, Uzbekistan launched another attack that saw Nilufar Kudratova hit the crossbar, before the ball was cleared from inside a melee of legs, as the referee soon brought an end to proceedings.
Daya Devi, who replaced Pyari Xaxa in the first half, looked lively in the opening exchanges of the second, as she pressed high up on the pitch, to force an error from the Uzbekistan defence, with the help of Soumya Guguloth. The former looked to play it into the path of an onrushing Dangmei Grace, but it was intercepted.
Around 10 minutes into the second half, Manisha combined well with Ranjana Chanu to work the ball up the pitch down the left flank. The young attacker found a channel to Daya, who turned her marker inside the box and crossed it in. However, the ball evaded all the attackers and defenders, and the danger was soon averted.
Uzbekistan had a clear chance to take the lead when midfielder Maftuna Shoyimova nodded a corner towards goal, but Anju Tamang cleared it off the line.
The hosts found the back of the net with just three minutes of regulation time left on the clock, when Maftuna Shoyimova slotted a free-kick from around 25 yards out, into the top corner.
Thus, India’s first friendly match in Uzbekistan this year ended in a narrow defeat.
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