KATHMANDU: The moment Pakistan had been waiting for finally came in the 40th minute against the Maldives on Tuesday – the first goal for the women’s national team in eight years.
After that, the floodgates opened as Pakistan scored six more times with Nadia Khan getting four in the second half in a crushing 7-0 win in their final SAFF Women’s Championship Group ‘A’ match here at Dasharath Rangasala Stadium.
Finally, they were able to taste a victory; his first since 2014 and the biggest in his history having opened the tournament with defeats against India and Bangladesh respectively.
“This is the perfect launch pad for us… there is nothing better than this,” Pakistan coach Adeel Rizki said at a post-match press conference with the women’s team that missed international football for most of the last decade due to the institutional crisis in the Pakistan Football Federation.
Even participation in this tournament would not have been possible if FIFA’s suspension over Pakistan had not been lifted in June.
“We could have said we couldn’t do this as we had very little time to prepare,” Rizki added. “But we took advantage of this opportunity by the neck and had a camp for the last month. It wasn’t easy, but we tried our best to be here.
“We’re going to continue [this momentum]. We will take a break after returning home and then we will try to get some national tournaments up and running and try to organize more matches for the team.”
Already out of the semi-final contest, Pakistan was looking to finish the tournament on top and tear the Maldives apart once Rameen Fareeed’s long-range effort beat goalkeeper Aminath Leeza on the rebound for the first goal.
Khadija Kazmi doubled Pakistan’s lead three minutes into the second half from the penalty spot before Nadia took over with goals in the 53rd, 78th, and 84th, leaving the Maldives defense in their wake with their pace.
“The previous two matches, we had different oppositions… teams that had been together for a long time,” Nadia, who plays for Doncaster Rovers Belles in England’s fourth tier, told reporters after the match.
“We had different strategies, but in this game, we knew we can attack more, but I still think it’s the union and belief in each player and mutual trust that also pushed us through.”
Nadia added a fourth in the 90th minute before substitute Anmol Hira completed the defeat in the fifth minute of stoppage time to leave the Maldives winless in the tournament and score Pakistan’s biggest win since their 4-1 win over Bhutan in 2014.
Bangladesh later took first place in the group after a resounding 3-0 victory over India, which has won all five editions of the tournament.
Jahan Shopna scored twice, while Srimoti Krishnarani Sarkar scored the other goal as Bangladesh inflicted India’s first defeat in SAFF women’s championship history.
Bangladesh stunned India by taking the lead in the 12th minute when Srimoti’s brilliantly weighted ball was finished off by Jahan, who became a provider 10 minutes later when Srimoti found the back of the net.
Jahan got his second in the 53rd, this time converting from captain Sabina Khatun’s pass as Bangladesh set up a quarter-final clash with Bhutan on Friday as India will face hosts Nepal for a place in the final.
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