Tunisia brought down India by a solitary goal in a friendly match played at the UAE FA Stadium in Dubai on Monday night.

The same team overcame FIFA ranked 100th UAE 4-1 on Saturday at the same venue. The team heads to Manama, Bahrain where they will play the Gulf country and Chinese Taipei. The friendlies have been arranged as part of India’s preparation for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup to be hosted in India early next year.

Indian will also get to play a five-nation tournament to be held in Kochi, Kerala during December involving two European and two higher-ranked Asian countries.

The Indians, with a FIFA ranking of 57, had their first chance as early as the second minute but even as Manisha tried to flick in Dalima Chibber’s cross, rival goalkeeper Mariem managed to keep it at bay.

Six minutes later Tunisia, FIFA No. 77, surged into the lead as Heuij scored from a free-kick. Stung, India launched a barrage of attacks in their effort to restore parity. In the 11th minute Manisha ran down the left flank and sent in a cross but the rival defence managed to clear it. Soon after, another cross from Sanju was collected by Mariem.

Ten minutes later, Indumathi tried to place it in from outside the penalty box, but it missed the target.

Tunisia managed to hold on to their early lead till the half-time even as the Indian women preferred to play it among themselves. In the 31st minute, Manisha’s free-kick missed the target and in the 40th minute, Dalima’s try sailed over the crossbar. In the 42nd minute, Indumathi, failed to find the target from an open chance.

Changing over, national women’s coach Thomas Dennerby made several changes. Goalkeeper Shreya Hooda replaced Aditi Chauhan, Ritu Rani in place of Ashalata Devi and Pyari Xaxa played in the role of Renu.

In the 53rd minute Pyari almost found the equaliser and again Pyari did manage to nod it home off the next corner but the referee disallowed it.

Dennerby brought in Sanju and Manisha for Martina and Sumati after the hour mark.

But then, Tunisia launched a series of counter attacks. In the 63rd minute they could have doubled the lead but Shreya managed to pull off a reflex save.

Dennerby brought in another substitution in the 68th minute – this time Indumathi making way for Sandhiya in midfield. Six minutes later Sandhiya maneuvered herself into some open space and did manage to take a shot but Mariem saw it off.

Mariem also denied Pyari in the 75th minute after the nippy forward managed to sneak in between the rival defence.

INDIA: Aditi Chauhan (Shreya Hooda – 46th); Astam Oraon, Ashalata Devi (Ritu Rani – 53rd), Sweety Devi, Dalima Chhibber; Indumathi (Sandhiya—68th), Sangita Basfore, Sanju (Martina – 61st), Manisha (Sumati – 61st), Soumya, Renu (Pyari Xaxa – 53rd).


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