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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

South Asian Games: Bala Devi brace powers India to third straight gold

Bala Devi, who ended as the top-scorer of the competition, netting five goals in four matches, scored twice to guide India to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Nepal in the final.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: December 9, 2019 6:20:10 pm
The Indian women celebrating with the trophy. (Source: AIFF)

The Indian women’s team bagged its third consecutive gold medal at the ongoing South Asian Games after triumphing 2-0 over Nepal in the final in Pokhara, Nepal on Monday.

Bala Devi dictated the play from the start and handed her team the gold by netting a brace to ease India to a comfortable victory over the hosts. The 29-year-old Asian Footballer of the Year nominee ended as the top-scorer of the competition, netting five goals in four matches.

India went on the offensive from the very start, as the likes of Sangita Basfore and Ratanbala Devi dominated proceedings from the middle of the park. Ratanbala had the first clear-cut chance for India, as she lined up her shot off a Ranjana Chanu cross. However, her shot whizzed over the crossbar.

Goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan, who has had a fantastic tournament, not conceding a single goal in any of the five matches, turned provider when she found Bala, with a long ball upfield. The mercurial striker duly converted the chance to give India the early lead.

India had another major chance around the half-hour mark when a Ranjana corner was headed down by captain Ashalata Devi towards Sandhiya, but the latter was flagged offside.

Chauhan made a couple of impressive saves on either side of the half-time break to keep India in the lead. Head Coach Maymol Rocky soon brought on Manisha in place of Sandhiya, and the move seemed to have made in instant impact.

An intricate move was converted into a chance by Ratanbala, who played Bala through on goal as the latter finished off the chance to score her second goal of the match. The Indians kept dominating the game, as time soon ran out, and India secured their third-straight gold medal.

(with inputs from AIFF)

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