India U-17 Women 9 (Menaka 3′, Shilji 12′, 62′, 69′, 76′, 79′, Sibani 42′, 61′, Thoibisana 56′) defeated Bhutan U-17 Women
The India U-17 team’s performance in their final game of the SAFF U-17 Women’s Championship season on Sunday, March 26, 2023, was one of the best ways to lift the sadness of a heartbreaking loss. The Young Tigresses ran riot against Bhutan, winning 9-0 and seizing control of their own destiny moving into the Championship final game.
The goals came quickly, with Menaka netting India’s first with a barely conceivable 35-yard strike. The midfielder had caught the Bhutanese goalie off guard and punished her. With the lead set and the jitters calmed, India began to play slick football, with Sibani Devi and Pooja in particular rushing with ease at a clueless Bhutan defence.
Shilji Shaji scores highest against Bhutan
Shilji Shaji scored India’s second goal in the 12th minute, hitting into the bottom corner from the top of the box after Pooja had put the ball into her path with care. India maintained their fast tempo and added a third goal right before halftime, Sibani tapping off Pooja’s pass for her first goal of the game.
Bhutan had shown bravery and tenacity throughout much of the first half. But at the start of the second, they seemed to have decided that losing was preferable than losing badly. This, though, was insufficient for India’s free-wheeling front three. From the 56th to the 62nd minute, India increased their lead, with Thoibisana scoring her first goal of the game and Sibani and Shilji both adding their personal score.
Shilji, who had three hat tricks in her first four games for India, scored her fourth soon after to give India a 7-0 lead. But she wasn’t finished. Two more goals came in the 79th and 81st minutes to round out a five-star performance. They are now top of the table, with the same points and goal difference as Russia, despite having played one more game.
India will play Russia in their last Championship game on March 28 at 1845 IST.
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