The Indian women’s team bowed out of the AFC Olympic Qualifiers Round 2 with a 0-3 loss to Uzbekistan in Tashkent on Wednesday. In the four-team group, India had earlier lost to Japan and Vietnam. Backed by a loud, if not capacity crowd, Uzbekistan immediately applied pressure on India, and started dominating possession. The equation was clear: a win would put Uzbekistan in prime contention for the best second-place team slot. India, meanwhile, were playing for pride. Within two minutes though Uzbekistan took the lead from a set piece.
Karachik Lyudmila’s corner played at the near post glanced off Khabibullaeva Diyorakhon’s head towards the centre of the six-yard area, from where Kudratova Nilufar kneed it in to give them the lead.
It took some exceptional goalkeeping by Shreya Hooda to ensure that India didn’t fall behind by more through the half. In the 14h minute, Hooda saved from Nilufar when the striker was one-on-one with her after a through ball played from her midfield.
From the resultant corner, she tipped over a long-distance effort by Asadova Dilrabo. On another occasion, she denied Dilrabo from point-blank range again, the forward’s first-time shot from a cutback palmed to safety.
India came out of half time with more conviction in their attacking play, and, as has been the trend, Manisha Kalyan and Anju Tamang were leading the charge.
In the 49th minute, having picked up a pass at the top of the box, Manisha drove in from the left before unleashing a shot towards goal from an acute angle. She beat the keeper but the ball bounced off the crossbar.
Sensing the danger of an Indian comeback, Uzbekistan ramped up the pressure again and in the 51st minute Karachik doubled the team’s tally, scoring after some interplay at the top of the box.
She added a third with a long ranger that snuck in at the near post to hand the home side a comfortable win and a real chance of qualifying for the next round.
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