India and Bangladesh were declared joint champions in the SAFF U-19 Women’s Championship, held at the BSSSMK Stadium in Dhaka on February 8, 2024. The intense match saw India take the lead with an early goal by Sibani Devi Nongmeikapam, but Sagorika’s injury-time equalizer forced the game into penalties.
The penalty shootout proved extraordinary, with every player successfully converting their kicks, resulting in an 11-11 tie. A coin toss initially declared India as the champions, but the decision was later revoked, and after a prolonged wait, the trophy was shared. This marked India’s fourth age-group title in women’s SAFF competitions, and notably, their first on Bangladeshi soil.
Despite Bangladesh dominating possession in the first half, it was India who showcased more incisiveness in the attacking third. Captain Nitu Linda’s visionary play led to Sibani’s goal, setting the tone for the match. However, the hosts fought back, and Sagorika’s injury-time goal leveled the score.
The final generated significant local interest, with a fervent crowd anticipating Bangladesh’s back-to-back title win. The festive atmosphere took a hit when India took the lead, but the home team’s equalizer ignited hope.
Throughout the match, Sulanjana Raul’s role as a false nine created opportunities for Neha and Sibani. India defended compactly, leaving Bangladesh to attempt long-range shots. The Young Tigresses had their chances, with Sapna Rani testing the Indian goalkeeper, Anika Devi Sharubam.
In the penalty shootout, both teams displayed clinical finishing, leading to the 11-11 tie. Despite initially winning the coin toss, India opted to share the trophy due to simmering tensions and disturbances from a section of the home fans. The AIFF Acting Secretary General, Mr. M Satyanarayan, emphasized prioritizing player and team officials’ security, leading to the decision to agree with the organizers’ request for a shared trophy.
The match showcased the resilience and skill of both teams, creating a memorable chapter in SAFF U-19 Women’s Championship history.
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